Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Underground El: A Do or a Don't

Was riding the red line home tonight, and it dawned on me. As I'm headed south, once I pass the Fullerton stop, my level of anxiety rises. This could be because of several factors. 

Being that I spent the majority of the past four years in East Lakeview/Lincoln Park, I quickly became a bus girl. I take comfort in being in one car and an ear shot away from the CTA driver. I like being able pass bus stops if no one is getting off, or sitting somewhere that doesn't smell like pee or look like someone may or may not have puked on the seat in the past 24 hours. I like driving by the lake. I like having control over the pully-thing.

And the funny part is, I'm pretty sure I'm not alone. I'm not sure the Underground EL brings comfort to many people. As soon as the car descends into the creepy Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle tunnel, people don't know where to look. Their cell phones don't work - often the biggest issue in this whole ride home. They can't pass time by checking out scenery. Social normalcy is out the window if you don't have a book... or you can't just stare out into the bus car without feeling out of place.

What do you think? Will you admit it freaks you out just a little bit? Above ground El or bust? Who's with me!?
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Sunday, May 17, 2009

From Rags to Riches: Duffy's to Enclave

Top 10 Reasons We Were Red Carpet-Worthy this Weekend:

10. Because this means there is a little less red carpet space in this world for Spencer and Heidi
9. If people on Real Housewives of NYC are apparently red carpet worthy these days... really, the bar isn't set too high. I'm not sure if I just insulted myself... but you know where i was going with that one.
8. Because we've spent five years finding the best bar specials in Chicago...
7. We may not be snacking on caviar and bree, but we bought hot dogs, peanuts and Old Style for $16... call it what you like... but we were living the high life!
6. Our cheers from our VIP seats on the third base line brought home a W for the Cubbies!
5. We went to a day Cubs game, hit up the Wrigleyville bars and then rallied over a dinner of turkey sliders, pasta salad and apps... no small feat...
4. We were rolling around town in a stretch limo for two hours... so the red carpet was an excellent final accessory for the night.
3. Because when they asked if we were on the list, we replied, "We have seven girls." And in we went.
2. One of our best friends is walking down the aisle in Cancun two weeks... and has had to deal with the threat of drug cartel, earthquakes and H1N1... the least she should get is a red carpet or two on her last night out as a single lady!
1. The red carpet was worthy of us...

What made you red carpet worthy this weekend?
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Tuesday, May 12, 2009

How Many Meals Can You Mess Up in One Night??

Let me count the ways... 

Attempt #1: Chicken Kabobs. 

I should also note that in no way were these from scratch. I pulled out Peapod kabobs from the freezer a few days ago. I may have left them in the refrigerator one day too long... because after grilling them on Mr. Foreman... there was a distinctly bad smell. Not normal. To avoid food poisoning... I avoided the kabobs.

Attempt #2. Peapod product #2.

Pulled out frozen twice baked potatoes. Directions said to bake at 350 for 30 minutes. 30 minutes later... half frozen... not twice baked. 

Chips, salsa and ice cream it is. Ice cream separate, of course.
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Sunday, May 10, 2009

Thoughts on Spring...

While running this morning, I got to thinking. If it were spring/summer year round in Chicago, would things be the same?

  • When you woke up on a Sunday and saw the sun shining and people walking around with no coats, would you still jump up and find any reason imaginable to get outside (walk the dog, cat, heck, even fish)?
  • Would strangers smile at each other... exchanging the unspoken conversation of, "Nice weather, huh?!" "We totally deserve this...." etc. ?
  • Would there be such thing as spring cleaning? Or the Macy's one-day spring sale?
  • Would guys still wear shorts at sandals when it was 50 degrees... or girls lay out in the park once the temp hit 60?
  • Would there be as much of a demand for beach volleyball or 16-inch softball leagues?
  • Would Chicago lose its title as one of the fattest cities in America? Or would it be worse, with 12-months of beer gardens to enjoy?
  • Would docking your boat in Lake Michigan be more or less expensive?
  • Would Oprah still have a gazillion houses scattered throughout the U.S. in tropical locations?
  • Would Cubs training and playing in Chicago year round cause a dangerously ridiculous explosion of excitement in Wrigleyville?
  • Would high-rises suddenly grow in height, trying to keep up with the housing demand as people run, fly and speed to try and move to the Second City?
  • Would we begin border control on non-Chicago residents?
This is stressing me out. Love the spring... but thank GOD for winter. We may be miserable for 6 - 8 months... for 4 - 6 months, we're elated, estastic, euphoric. It's spring in Chicago, and really, what could be better?!
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Saturday, May 9, 2009

Trip to Trader Joe's

How did it take me 26 years to realize the awesomeness of Trader Joe's?!?! This afternoon I picked up a week's worth of groceries for $25... and that included wine. Everyone knows about the 2 buck Chuck... but I was also surprised to find deals on pretty much everything from salsa to frozen pizza.

The trek is a bit far... and I'd probably avoid it on a Saturday (ridiculously crowded)... but I'll definitely be returning soon!

Saved enough money to justify my shopping date tomorrow! 
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Thursday, May 7, 2009

Sporty Spice...

I remember when I first moved to Chicago.  I would take the run past North Avenue in the summer and jealously check out the beach volleyball and softball leagues. Moving here in June, I definitely didn't have enough friends to form a volleyball team, and our softball team at work never went out afterwards. I played because, really, I was an intern, and I couldn't say no... but always thought, isn't the point of softball to further "team build" at the field AND the bar? Was I just too fresh out of college to find a love for the sport? Turns out... it wasn't me. It was them.

They stop playing. Many moved. Some went to other PR firms. But four years later, I'm still here and still playing... and the team took a dramatic 180. For the better. We win games AND have fun afterwards. I like to think it was because of my encouragement and/or social leadership... but I think I had some help from a few of my bar/karoake-loving friends, co-workers and family who have become the rockstar team we now know as the B-M Bashers. 

There's drama. There's tears. People have been known to kick dirt... sometimes throw clipboards. Fight with refs. But one things is always certain. There is beer. Before. During. And after. And that's the one constant that's kept us together through the years :)

Let's play ball!

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Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Cinco de It's finally Mayo

I may be almost 100 percent Irish... but if there's a holiday that celebrates and embraces margaritas, chips and salsa, and my favorite, guacamole... count me in. Even on a Tuesday.

The original plan was head over to Blue Agave on Maple (right outside the Viagra Triangle) for a margarita or two. I walked up to the restaurant at 6:30 and it's seriously Mardi Gras-gone-Mexican. People are literally hanging out the window trying to fit into the bar... and a full blown mariachi band is rocking out on both stairs. It was a sight to be seen. Clearly, the fact that it was Tuesday did not stop anyone else.

I walked in and then walked out. And then I walked in again... just for the sheer enjoyment to find out how long it would take to get a table for five. An hour and a half. 

I'm all about livin la vida loco... but in a city that has more bars than stop signs, waiting an hour and half to sit at a crowded table is flipping insane. So we went next door, to Dublin's - an Irish bar - and got a couple margaritas, Irish nachos and spinach dip. Not only did they not have specials on a Tuesday... I'm pretty sure they hiked up their prices for Cinco de Mayo. Clearly, they are bitter that March 17th came and went.

All in all... excellent Tuesday night. Can't wait until summer!!!!

Anyone actually try to squeeze into a Mexican bar up north?? 
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Monday, May 4, 2009

Lessons from the Field

Vince Lombardi once said, "Football is like life - it requires perseverance, self-denial, hard work, sacrifice, dedication and respect for authority."

Excellent quote about life. Maybe not so much applicable to our game of flag football tonight. But, alas, it was not a waste. We did learn a few minor, insignificant lessons that made it worth our while... 
  • Playing on a nice, non-rainy night significantly improves your game. And doesn't make you feel like such a girly girl when trying to catch the ball. 
  • Despite the increased confidence from the weather, you can still be heckled and told you catch like a girl from some d-bag from the other team. Joke's on you buddy. I am a girl. And at least I caught it. If it didn't sound like you meant to actually hurt my feelings, or upset me in any way, I may have taken that one as a compliment...
  • People don't just get hyped up on pills on the weekends. Turns out... they do that on Mondays too... and then decide to prance around the field during multiple flag football games. This most likely will cause rent-a-cop to come out of the darkness like a baseball player in "Field of Dreams"... and calm this crazy crack chica down. Subsequently completely distracting one team... resulting in a touchdown. Dang Monday night druggie. Dang you.
  • A forfeit is just as good as a valid W.
  • JT can play flag football... all while wearing a stylish jersey boy cap and vintage adidas pants... rip in the knee. Runway model goes football. No complaints here.
  • Hot Pockets CAN apparently be warmed over table candle light without tasting like citronella... 
Team TDMP... am I missing anything? Tell on... 

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Sunday, May 3, 2009

Birthday Bonanzas...

This weekend, I partied like it was my birthday... while celebrating not one but THREE birthdays... and learned a few things along the way that I'd thought I'd pass on... 

Friday had a mini-Walshie reunion at Rick Koplin's birthday. In two weeks he's running the Cleveland marathon, but on Friday he and his friend hosted a party at Landmark on Halsted. Love that bar and that tapering plan. 

In addition to the fun of hanging out with an old friend came the added bonus of free vodka drinks from 9 - 10:30 and passed apps thanks to his vodka promo friend. And the passed apps were entire pizzas... which were considerably hard to just pick up with one hand. Strange choice, but we indulged anyways. 

My girl friends and I danced until literally we dropped... all of us decided to wear way-to-high heels... most likely resulting in leg/foot problems in our near future. Future being now.

Saturday I celebrated with E. Conn for her bday at Hye Bar on Southport. Prior to the bar, her and her friends taught me how to play Indiana's favorite drinking game - Sink the Biz. It's a doozie. It starts with a Biz bucket. You fill the bucket with about three beers and drop a large shot glass-like glass into the beer. Then you go around in a circle pouring beer into the glass... the person who sinks the cup, has to drink the over sized shot glass of beer. I didn't say it took too much brain power.

I quickly learned that I was horrible at it...or that the person next to me was really good... because I probably sunk the biz one too many times. I lasted about an hour at the bar before I gave myself the old sorority shoulder tap and headed home, where I was welcomed by leftover pizza. Best decision ever. 

Jen's birthday brunch was the last 
on the list of birthday bonanzas which happened this morning... and what a better place to celebrate than Gibson's. Knowing it's reputation for high-priced steaks, I was a little leery when I ordered a mimosa and didn't see prices... and when they not only brought a flute, but a small bottle of nice champagne with it. Turns out... it was only $8... and it turned into about 3 mimosas. Amazing. You can't even get that at Duffy's brunch!! 

And second revelation was their humongous carrot cake. I'm not even kidding when I tell you it was 9 inches high. We had seven people at the table and the bday girl still had to take home a half a cake. It was seriously good. Well worth it for the picture and the taste.

Beyond the birthdays, I had a great time just enjoying the weather. This is why I love Chicago. And this is why I've been lacking on the blog posts. I'll be better. I promise :) 

Any other birthdays or bonanzas I forgot to mention this weekend?? Do tell...

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