Tuesday, September 30, 2008

It's Baseball in October

I was raised a Sox fan. My family would go to games pretty frequently when Michael and I were little. This is back in the day when it was actually Comiskey. Back when Harry Caray was announcing there (hear that Cubs fans?)
I am from the kind of family where the men might take just as much pleasure in the Cubs losing as the Sox winning. And I married someone who often feels the same.
In high school, our entire senior class was given tickets to the Cubs game by one of the big donors to the school. I remember lying to my dad about where I was going that day, fearing his disappointment.
Sometimes it is hard to be a Sox fan living on the north side. Not tonight.

Thursday, September 25, 2008


Nothing like finding out about the biggest bank failure we've ever seen in our lifetime after a nice evening of sushi and wine.

What is going on? And should we really have our $$ under the mattress?

Monday, September 22, 2008

I am the Champion

My first 5k was Sunday morning. I am the champion! I didn't win the race, I was actually about 84th in my age group (out of a little more than a hundred timed runners) but I ran the whole thing!

The race was out on the new runway at O'Hare which was cool. Very cool. Much cooler than I had expected to have planes taking off over your head. I'm sure the view from on the plane of thousands of people running must have been pretty intense as well.

Lots of the friends were there and it was a great way to spend the first half of a Sunday!
I think I might be turning into a runner! How about that? Running has never been one of my strengths. I was always faster in the water than on land. But, I have always fantasized about being a runner. So simple, lace up your shoes and go. I love it.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Jr. High Reunion

So I'm old. I attended my 20 year Jr. High Reunion tonight. I get far too nervous when it comes to events like this. I've ditched about half of my high school reunions for that reason. But I kept a good attitude about this one and really had a great time. I guess the jey is keeping it all in perspective.
The party was supposed to happen at the Scout Cabin but due to inclement weather, the cabin is under a few feet of water. So luckily we were able to secure the Berwyn VFW hall last minute!

I got suckered into going to a big, giant, Riverside bash after the reunion. Definitely an interesting experience since despite having worked at the RSC I really haven't seen most of any of the people I know in close to 20 years. But it was super fun. So thanks to Lisa and Cydney for convincing me to go out. And thanks to Jason for going along with all of it.

I might write more about the whole thing later. But now, after several beers and a couple of sangrias, I need to go to bed. I'm running my first 5K early tomorrow morning. Oops.

Friday, September 19, 2008

The Bodyguard

Um, yeah, I knew there was something else I watched last night. Yes, "The Bodyguard", starring Whitney Houston and Kevin Costner. I didn't watch the whole thing, came in during the second half.

Guilty pleasure, I really liked it. Please don't judge me too harshly.

Chicken Stock

J doesn't travel too much for work, but last night was one of those nights. With the house all to myself I had grand plans of finishing my closet organization project, folding the rest of the laundry and finally getting to those wedding Thank You notes (those of you who have not yet received one, you know I love you, I'm just lazy).

I accomplished none of those tasks and instead spent hours watching Scrubs reruns, the Office and ER finales from last season and Good Will Hunting, all the while doing a book of very difficult Kakuro puzzles http://www.kakuro.net/

The one thing which salvaged my waste of an evening was making chicken stock.

Earlier in the week we bought a rotisserie chicken from Dominicks. I LOVE rotisserie chickens. I didn't even know how much I loved them until the last year or so. We get them infrequently, but every time we do, I can't wait to finish carving the meat (or, let's be honest, for J to finish carving the meat) so that I can take the carcass and make a big pot of stock.

Now, the problem I have encountered in the past is that I save that carcass. I keep it in the fridge and have grand plans. And then the week gets busy, and then I get distracted from my goal, and then I completely forget about the carcass until J points out the smell in the fridge.

This time I kept my eyes on the prize

Here's my stock
Chicken carcass
2-3 carrots
2-3 stalks celery
3/4 onion
1-2 bay leaves
lemon juice

Put it in the pot, fill it with water, bring to a boil and simmer for a few hours. I realized just now that I forgot bay leaves. Oh well.

After I'm done I strain everything, return the liquid to the pot and put the pot in the fridge overnight so I can skim off any fat the next day. Freeze in small batches and use for the next month or two.

Week 3

Yes, I'm going to pat myself on the back for a few minutes here. Actually, I've been patting myself on the back a lot the last few weeks.

Today is 3 weeks non-smoking!!!

I have to say, I feel great. There have been some ups and downs for sure. The first week and a half was tough. I would be fine all day until about 3pm. That's when the craving would start. The thoughts would not stop. From 3 until I would go to bed here is what would go on in my head in an endless loop every 5 minutes

"I want a cigarette"
"You are choosing not to smoke a cigarette"

"I want a cigarette"
"You are choosing not to smoke a cigarette"

You get the picture. This would continue until I was literally getting into bed, at which point it would change to

"I want a cigarette"
"You are going to bed. You can revisit this topic tomorrow"

I will admit to some irritability. OK, I had some uncontrollable rage, that first week especially. One night, I made J hold a pillow so I could punch it for about 5 minutes. Felt good. I'm also a little more emotional. I seem to be tearing up at stupid TV more often than before.

But mostly what I feel is relief. Relief and total liberation. I guess I finally understand what the phrase "getting the monkey off your back means". I had no idea I would feel so free.

Firefly with the Girls

I'm struggling with my weight a little bit. I wonder if there is any correlation between that and the number of restaurants I seem to be frequenting these days!

Girls night this past Saturday. We decided to deviate from our normal haunts and try something brand new. Firefly on halsted

We were 6 tonight. One not available due to a wedding, but celebrating the return of one of our long lost travelers who had been in Europe the last 5 months!

I will admit, I am a bit of a homebody. At one point this summer I declared I was only going to eat and shop and socialize within Logan Square. I don't usually go to Boystown or Lakeview any more simply because these neighborhoods are kind of a pain in the ass to get in and out of.

I'm glad my friends are not so close minded as I am! Dinner was great.

First and foremost, the company could not be beat. Just a fabulous evening in a cozy booth catching up on everyone's lives over a few bottles of wine. Our dinner M.O. (modus operandi) os not to each order a meal, but to order a variety of appetizers, salads and entrees for the table.

I'm writing this about a week after the fact, so I can't remember everything we had, but let me try.

For appetizers we started with:

Duck Spring Rolls
Baked Brie
Mac & Cheese

What's not to love? The Mac & Cheese was particularly outstanding. Obviously not your run of the mill Kraft product, penne with a blend of white cheeses. Not too gooey or too much. Although, in all honesty, I challenge you to present me with someone who does not like any form of mac & cheese. Out of the box, or made from scratch it's the best thing out there.

For our second round we ordered the 4 specials they were offering last weekend:
Cabbage Salad
Eggplant slices, shaved very thin, stuffed with a cheese (ricotta?) and a slice of prosciutto


Veal Medallions

The tuna was forgettable, but the veal was incredible! Most of us aren't big veal eaters. It was served with a venison sauce that was out of this world.

We started off out evening with a bottle of sparkling wine. Trying not to break the bank, we ordered a bottle of the Chandon. Moderately priced in stores, here, of course it was about $30. We followed that up with 2 bottles of red. The first, a Cote Du Rhone. We expected something bigger and a little spicier, more like a syrah. Interestingly enough, it was a pinot noir. The second I can't recall.

DESSERT: I am not a big dessert person. I crave salty, not sweet. Calamari sounds like a good dessert to me. In the last year or so I have come more to appreciate a bite of chocolate after a meal. That craving seems stronger now that I have quit smoking.

Since we were celebrating, we went for dessert. Two desserts to be exact. One, a chocolate lava cake which is probably pretty much as you would imagine it. Dark, decadent and delicious. I love flourless chocolate cake, I know it is not everybody's thing, but for me, the darker the better.

The start of the night though were the cinnamon beignets. Let's start by saying that they are not traditional beignets. For those of you who have eaten at Cafe Du Monde in New Orleans http://www.cafedumonde.com/, please, keep your mind open.

They were fantastic. Tiny little cubes of cinnamon goodness, all stacked up in a cube and topped with a dollop of icecream. I would go back just for the dessert, even if the rest of the meal hadn't been so great!

We finished off the night at Matilda's, an old favorite. I hadn't been to matilda's for years. I have hazy memories of going up and down the steepest staircase in Chicago in order to go to the bathroom. I could never figure out how more people hadn't died in that bar going up and down those stairs. Luckily, I stayed for just one drink and didn't have to even try.

Friday, September 12, 2008

I Need Some Sleep

I need some sleep. But instead of sleeping I have been laying awake itching and examining welts on my body. There are a few possible causes

1. Spider bites. However, this would have been one prodigious spider as I have swollen, itchy spots on both arms, my left hand, my right eye and my left shoulder blade

2. Hives. But what did I eat? Lunch was a veggie sub from the Simply Fresh by my office, and dinner was a concoction from left overs and some extra veggies.

3. Detox. Could this be a result of nicotine detox?

I'm waiting for the sun to rise a little before I head to the 24 hour Walgreens. No matter what the cause, I figure some benadryl should help.

Thursday, September 11, 2008


I just came across this article about oysters. http://www.novusvinum.com/education/oysters_and_wine.html

I love oysters. Whenever I am somewhere I can get a few, I will indulge. It is one of my most decadent treats to myself. When my family and the rest of the Riverside gang used to go to Florida every year, we would go to a place that would serve them by the dozen on lunch trays. Nothing makes me happier than looking at a menu and seeing that they serve individual oysters as an appetizer (since I'm rarely out eating with someone who wants to split a whole dozen with me!)

On my "Day of Freedom" (first day as a non-smoker) I met J and a friend at Pops for Champagne http://www.popsforchampagne.com/ after work for an impromptu celebration.

I met them, sat down, had a glass of wine and, voila! oysters appeared as if by magic in front of me. Apparently, Jason had ordered some from the waiter and asked them to bring them to me once I arrived. "I thought you would like congratulatory oysters better than cake"

I love this man!


Ah, this is why I love the city, random fabulous dinners in the middle of the week!

Jason, myself, my sister-in-law and her boyfriend went to Marche last night. http://www.marche-chicago.com/
This was my first time. I have to admit I wasn't sure what to expect. I knew it was French but the interior is pretty crazy. Kind of traditional French bistro meets a carnivale with Radiohead playing in the background.
The food was upscale but the vibe was a lot more laid back than I had feared it might be. They have a $28 prie fixe menu on Wednesdays. Any appetzier, entree and dessert off the menu, not a bad deal!
We each had a different first course, escargot in a pernod sauce that were incredible, scallops, a duet of smoked salmons and a beet salad. Eveything was great. For entrees two of us had the filet special (which I'm sure would have cost more than the prie fixe clost alone), one salmon and a beautiful quail dish.
At this point I was stuffed but dessert was included. A banana creme brule, a frozen souffle, a mix of vanilla icecream and strawberry sorbet for J, and I had the flourless chocolate cake.
I love flourless chocolate cake, it seems like one of those things people love or hate. I love how dense and dark it is and was satisfied after 2 big bites. Luckily I had spent some quality time on the elliptical machine and in an Abs class at the gym before dinner.
Our waitress was great. Keeping up with Jason's jokes and funny requests without missing a beat. And of course, great conversation and a lot of laughs.
I had to bring up politics at one point just to check in on everyone. I shouldn't have done it but needed to. Most of you reading this will not be surprised to find out I'm pretty liberal. The thought of the democrats blowing this election was the only low spot to my whole evening!
So, I would highly recommend Marche. And if you're hungry, go on Wednesday for the Prie Fixe menu!


So, I know I've been giving Jason a hard time about moving to the suburbs. I'm just not ready for the suburbs of Chicago quite yet. Neither is he really, but the city starts grating on you.

I have to admit city living is wearing on me as well. And as Jason and I meld our lives, we are slowly being squeezed out of my place, there's just no room! I've been starting to feel like the walls are closing in on me at home.

So spending the weekend in Colorado was fabulous. I always forget what an incredible feeling of openness there is. Denver isn't actually in the mountains so you are really sitting smack dab on top of a giant plain with mountains in the distance.

I also have a sneaking suspicion that your dollar goes alot further outside of the city limits of Chicago. The 10.25% sales tax is starting to wear thin. And while the housing market is receeding, what I could get for my little condo would probably get me a 3 bedroom house with a finished basement in a lot of other places.

So, while I'm not ready for the suburbs of Chicago, I did decide that we might be moving to Highlands Ranch, CO. The negatives of the suburbs seem to diminish a little with the Rockies in the background.

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Real Tenochtitlan

I'm leaving for Denver tomorrow morning. I can't wait to get out of town, but am sad that J isn't joining me. So, we decided to go out to dinner tonight. I've been dying to try out Real Tenochtitlan.

Some of you may remember Ixcapulzaco, a great restaurant on Milwaukee north of Logan that served authentic mole sauces, focusing on a different mole every night. I took my parents there shortly after I moved to the neighborhood (well, tried to take them, I wanted to give them a big thanks for all of the help they gave me buying my condo, but my dad refused to let me pay, so I guess I got another free meal).

The chef, Geno Bahena, worked at Frontera Grill with Rick Bayless and has received nothing but the highest praise. However, he can't really seem to keep a restaurant open.

I feel like a traitor even saying it. Every review of his new restaurant, Tenochtitlan only mentions his past endeavor under a veil of the highest praise. But Ixcapuzalco eventually closed. They moved into an empty restaurant space on Western. A former Mexican restaurant called La Bonita, whose sign they never even changed. We went one time and the service was a disaster. That closed as well.

And now, Real Tenochtitlan has opened. Great reviews, and, greatest of all for me, it is still BYO.

So, trying to balance the desires to avoid the terrible weather with the need to leave the house and my desire to support the newest place in the 'hood that I still haven't tried out, we went.

The space is great, I really liked it. I am a regular reader of my neighborhood yahoo listserv and have read a lot of reviews of the restaurant (the people on the listserv are not afraid to express their opinions. Don't worry, I'm sure I'll comment on some of it again in the future). Almost every single one praised the food, a few didn't like the interior.

The food was good. If you've been to Ixcapuzalco you would first recognize that the menu is EXACTLY the same. One side with the mole of the day, served with your choice of fish, meat or poultry, the other side with appetizers and other dinner specials. In the exact same format, changing only the name of the restaurant at the top.

Thursday night special is the Verde mole which we both had. Jason loved it. I liked it.

"I liked it" I guess that encapsulates my whole experience.

Forgive me again for being a traitor, but while the idea of mole always drives me wild, the reality of it leaves me wanting. Every time. I think I always want more kick than I get. I guess it's just not really my thing.

I love supporting local businesses. I love the idea of spending good amounts of my money within a mile radius of my home. I love eating food grown less than one state away as well, we'll get into that later.

The service was good, couldn't have been nicer. "I liked it" Entrees were around $20, and with a couple of coffees afterwards it really wasn't so bad. Not the cheapest byo night ever, but not going to break the bank. I liked it.

So, I feel a little all over the place with my review. I guess I want to love the place. But I liked it. I want everyone I know to try it out. There's nothing I love more than supporting my local businesses. So GO! Enjoy it! Bring your friends. I'll probably go with you, unless I can manage to remember that mole doesn't really do it for me. Maybe I should try a different dish.