Sunday, August 31, 2008

Happy Blog Day!

Blog Day 2008

What is Blog Day?
BlogDay was created with the belief that bloggers should have one day dedicated to getting to know other bloggers from other countries and areas of interest. On that day Bloggers will recommend other blogs to their blog visitors. With the goal in mind, on this day every blogger will post a recommendation of 5 new blogs. This way, all blog readers will find themselves leaping around and discovering new, previously unknown blogs.

BlogDay Posting Instructions
  1. Find 5 new Blogs that you find interesting
  2. Notify the 5 bloggers that you are recommending them as part of BlogDay 2008
  3. Write a short description of the Blogs and place a link to the recommended Blogs
  4. Post the BlogDay Post (on August 31st) and
  5. Add the BlogDay tag and a link to the BlogDay Web Site

My Picks:

All Things G&D - She's already awesome because she's from Wisconsin and in Badger-country but she's also great because she loves Kate Spade and understands that in Wisconsin, showing up drunk to a restaurant should not be judged.

Golightly - Meg is awesome. Her posts always make me laugh and her inner Rage Girl reminds me of my own :)

Life in the Left Lane - Recently married, works in travel PR and living in Hot-lanta. I think if she lived in Chicago, we'd be BFFs.

Places Never Planned - Cute as a button, and funny as all h*ll. Plus, she loves the Beatles white album and records, just like me! It's the final awesomeness.

Tied Together With A Smile - Another awesome Wisconsin girl who loves the Hills, football, baseball and can divide her loyalties between the Cubs and Brewers when necessary :)

Those are my inaugural Blog Day picks. It wasn't an easy choice but I look forward to taking part again next year!

Weekend recap coming tomorrow - full of shenanigans. 

Thursday, August 28, 2008

I love girl talk...drinks optional!

I love girl talk. I love getting together with my girlfriends and just talking about anything big or small. We can solve world problems, one at a time, within a few hours.

Troubled economy? Get a room of women together (with drinks) and it will be balanced within a day. Drinks are also a great icebreaker for girl talk (especially in unknown company) and make sharing stories and questions a lot easier. I like to think I'm pretty easy to talk to, so drinks just help me be more talkative and a lot louder when the conversation gets heated. Once I've had a glass of wine, I can guarantee that finger-waggin' and "oh no you didn't" are inevitable.

My favorite part about girl talk is how supportive it is. Don't know what to do with your hair? The girls will give you some gentle and well-intentioned tips. Man trouble? Girlfriend I am here with you to the end on that. He doesn't know what he's missing out on. Family problems? Honey, I'm here to listen, tell me what's wrong. During a particularly bad time last year, one friend sat on the phone with me for 2 hours while I cried and just rambled about nothing. She could have only been half-listening or watching television in the background, but she was there, and she knew that was what I needed.

With support like that, I feel like I can kick some a** and go out and say "lookout Chicago, here I come!"

Then there's the flip side to girl talk: the catty side. Trust me, girls can be M-E-A-N, but honestly, this is my favorite part. I've been called judgemental many times and it's partially true, but sometimes it's nice to be around friends and women who think the same things you do and you feel safe in verbalizing them. Sadly, women can be the meanest and hit the lowest on one common thing: other women's fashion choices. Below is an example of this.

**Woman wearing an inappropriate outfit walks by**

"Did you see that?" 

"Hells yes, what was she thinking?"

"I don't know, maybe she was drunk when she picked it out?"

"Maybe she was going for the 'pigs in a blanket' look?"

"You're so mean"

"Oh shut up you were thinking the same thing b*tch, you were thinking that she's not only colorblind, but she has bad taste"

"I know, but you said it!"

I have had this conversation in a variety of ways with many of my girlfriends. Usually it's more crass too - I kept this one pretty PG-13. I know it's mean, I know it's beyond catty and childish but when you fight dirty, nothing is out of bounds. During my fashion dark-age, I am willing to guarantee that other women had the same conversation about my poor choices. Many women have looked at me, pointed and laughed. So I rationalize my catty actions by saying, "it's my turn b*tches."

Tonight, Liz, Anne and I went purse shopping (not for me) and out to sushi for dinner. It was a perfect girls night out with some appropriate, non-catty, super supportive girl talk. And walking to the El, it was exactly what I needed after a long week.

Now Sarah and I are going to buy my super-not-necessary-but-gee-I-want-it birthday gift this weekend. And I cannot wait to get some tips about how I should cut my hair in two weeks and what MAC eyeshadow colors I should invest in. Plus I'm sure we'll find at least one person to make fun of.

Sounds like a solid time! Girl talk thoughts from anyone else?

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

The list: Things to do before I turn 30

I get the majority of my really good ideas at the gym. And last night as I worked off birthday cake on the elliptical machine, I had another one.  

As I now embark on my last year in my 20s, I thought it was appropriate to make a list of things I want to do before next year's birthday. Basically it's a list of things to do before I "kick the 20-something bucket."

I had some criteria in developing the list:
  • Had to be things that are achievable (not too lofty)
  • Could not cost too much money to fulfill
  • Must primarily include things I've never done before
  • Combo of serious and non-serious things
Without further we go!

The List by Jess:
  • Make some amends with my mom
  • Wear a bikini in public
  • Go out on at least two dates
  • Make out with at least three guys
  • Volunteer
  • Take at least 2 yoga and Pilates classes each
  • Do something totally selfless
  • Take a disco dancing class
  • Give $100 to charity
  • Take cooking lessons
  • Make a gourmet meal for my closest friends
  • Run a 5k
  • Go to at least 12 new restaurants (no duplicates)
  • Read 10 books
  • Go skinny dipping
First off, yes I have made out with a guy before and gone on dates, like I said, there are things I've already done on here. But dating hasn't been a real priority for a long time so it's time to challenge myself to get out there. Same with volunteering and donating to charity - I have done this before but as a single-income in the city, this hasn't been a priority either so it's time to give back finally.

So the goal of this list is to give a me a range of new experiences (and some not) and to help me to become a better person as I embark on a new decade. I'm not saying everything will make me better but if nothing else, I'll learn something from it. And in one year, I'll be back writing about what I've learned from my year of new things.

Time for birthday cake and research for tomorrow's post. What do you guys think about "the list?"

Monday, August 25, 2008

Weekend recap: a birth!

Okay so when I say "a birth" I actually  mean celebrating my birth. Same thing.

Thank you again everyone for your kind birthday wishes and comments on my baby pictures. I hate to say it, but I agree with you all, I was absolutely adorable. I mean look at those eyes and that face! To this day, my dad loves that second picture, drool and all. Sadly that hasn't changed as I've gotten older too.

Anyhow, here's a full weekend recap, scary lesbian bar and all.

Yes, I started celebrating my birthday weekend on Thursday (because I was off of work on Friday!)

We had our company outing at DeLaCosta downtown and it was a stellar time. The food was amazing (prosciutto! salmon! blackberry flan!) and I had my new favorite drink - move over Cherry Bomb.

My new drink obsession is a "muddle." It's like a fresh fruit mojito actually. The watermelon one had fresh watermelon chunks, vodka, another unknown little mix, crushed ice and a splash of club soda or Sprite. This amazing concoction is shaken together and served in a tall glass. A-M-A-Z-I-N-G. I would go back for the muddle and flan any day of the week - and twice on Sunday.

Friday - Party time!
My actual birthday evening is always reserved for dinner with dad so I decided to channel my very well hidden inner Martha Stewart and throw a party! After a painful, humid morning of cleaning, I decided to shock the sh*t out of my friends more and cook (I'm not a cook - at all).

Sarah was a total lifesaver and came over early to a) calm my frantic nerves and b) help me get things ready for the party. I owe her a big, inappropriate hug. Then my real-life and some bloggy friends showed up and the party really got rolling. I have to say, I'm really fortunate to have so many great friends. Not everyone could make it but the group that did was so much fun and everyone got along! The plan was to go to the bar after awhile but everyone was having so much fun, we just stayed in. Yay! Now I could have done better moving the food out but everyone said they had fun and I had helpers to clean up too! 

And I can't forget to mention Mega being the first person to wish me happy birthday - he even cleaned up the red wine that spilled too. What a guy! And all the booze was gone at the end of the night - apparently I have friends who LOVE to drink :)

Saturday - the big day
So despite going to bed at 2:30 a.m. the previous night, I got up in time to meet Liz and Sarah for mani/pedi's near my house and everyone was on time. Maybe this weekend existed as a Twilight Zone? My nails look fab - even though the manicurist nicked my cuticles several times and then didn't apologize. She got a very low tip.

Ann Sather's was next for brunch and Sarah got them to put a candle in its famous cinnamon rolls and had them sing to me. That was awesome. And I got extra cinnamon rolls to go - score!

Dad came in and with both of us dressed up, we went to Brasserie Ruhlmann - a French steakhouse - in River North. I'm pleased to say that I got dad (who is a notoriously picky eater) to try a Frisee salad with poached egg, bacon and sausage (heaven - plus dad liked it!) and my steak au poivre was incredible. And I have leftovers!

Then came the ceremonial cutting of my insanely delicious cake before dad took Ryan, Liz and me up to the Brauhaus in Lincoln Sqaure for Mike's belated birthday celebration (and a little more celebrating for me too). The Brauhaus was solid, German fun and the night ended with karoke at a scary lesbian bar in the neighborhood - from which Liz and I were nearly kidnapped by a scary car of guys while waiting for a cab. Normally I don't get creeped out like that but honestly, I had a flash where I thought, "this is it. I'm on a milk carton." Time to get bear mace.

My birthday cake with purses - dad knows me too well :)

So that's my weekend. Thank you all again for your kind wishes and come on back for my "list" tomorrow.

How was everyone else's weekend?

Saturday, August 23, 2008

It's official: Happy Birthday to me!

Yes the wait is finally over. Sorry if my post on Thursday was a bit confusing, but thank you everyone for your kind birthday wishes.

Twenty-nine years ago today (Saturday), my mom went into labor and 3 hours and 15 minutes later, I was born.

See how efficient I am??!!!

So below are some pictures of me as a little baby (and dressed way too warmly for this time of the year in one of them). I'm off for a few days to finish celebrating my descent from the womb but I'll be back shortly with more good stuff.

And if I fall behind in my Reader, come back, look at my adorable baby face, and I hope you can forgive me :)

Recap of the entire birthday weekend plus pictures of my super awesome gift to myself are also coming!!!

Thursday, August 21, 2008

The birthday anticipation and butterflies

Someone recently asked me if I'm looking forward to my birthday...and I hesitated in answering.

When I was a kid, I thought my birthday was better than Christmas morning. Presents, friends, cake, lots and lots of singing, and all the attention on me. The only downside was that an end-of-summer birthday meant back-to-school time.

Then during the "dark period" of my adolescence, which extended into my early 20s, birthdays were pretty much a curse because of a few emotional and family issues. I didn't get a sweet 16 party or the surprise party I've always wanted so I never looked forward to my birthday.

Awhile ago, the RedEye summed up the birthday anticipation best: you dread the two weeks before it, then your actual birthday arrives and immediately after you realize that it wasn't such a big deal.

This is 100 percent true. 

When you're past the big milestone birthdays (16, 18, 21 and 25) there isn't a lot to look forward to, outside of the big 3-0, so celebrating it takes additional effort.

The hardest birthday for me was #25 because I was recently laid off from a job, still living at home after college and I celebrated my birthday with a half-assed dinner with my parents. I almost went home and took a bottle of pills because I didn't think I could get any lower. But then six months later I applied for an internship in Chicago and my life changed :)

I try not to dread my birthday anymore for two reasons: 1) it'll happen no matter what and 2) I still find myself getting excited about it, even if another candle is added to the cake.

On my birthday, I do whatever I want and make no apologies. I treat myself like a queen and surround myself with people I care about (who are free to get together). I try not to look at aging anymore as a curse - like I used to - but focus more on what I have to be positive about: a good job, good health and good friends and family. In the end, that's enough to be happy about, even if celebrating it gives me one more candle on the cake. 

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Rant: Another celebrity caves to the Hollywood stereotype

I always look forward to the new issue of US Weekly. Who doesn’t love unnamed sources and somewhat shady reporting sometimes? It’s the perfect balance to my other reputable magazines, such as Vanity Fair.

Anyhow, the latest US Weekly definitely caught my attention and not for the right reason. Jennifer Love Hewitt, who I loved on Party of Five, is on the cover standing like a Stepford Wife declaring that she lost 18 pounds magically in 10 weeks. Now everyone can see how thin and statuesque she is compared to her old body. The cover and story photos gloss over how amazing she looks now, perfectly styled and put together, compared to how she used to dress, which sadly is how I dress on the weekends sometimes. I guess in real life, I’m the fugly version of her too.

She says in the magazine that she did it to feel better about herself and that I believe, somewhat. Who doesn’t want to feel good about how they look? After waking up on the bathroom floor one morning after a long night out, I swore that I would change my lifestyle and since then, I have. I work out, I eat better (or honestly try to) and take care of myself. And weight loss came along with that. But I did it because when I looked in the mirror every morning, I wanted to think I was a hottie rather than be embarrassed at how I look. And if Jennifer honestly did that for the same reason, then good for her.

But there are coincidences in timing here that I can’t help but trip on. The unflattering Hawaii photos in December, her declaration to People magazine to “stop calling me fat!” and her scrutiny back of the media for their focus on self-image, yet now, a few months later she’s back in the news for this brand-new body that seems to exemplify everything she told them media to f*ck off on before.

The magazine doesn’t say what size she’s at now, but I can’t help but feel that it perpetuates the stereotype that women who wear a larger size, such as a size 12 or above are always the “before” picture in these magazines. Kirsten Johnston from Music and Lyrics and 3rd Rock from the Sun was a size 12 at her “heaviest” and because of a medical condition lost 60 pounds. To be fair, this is a different situation but the way she talked about being a size 12/14 is what upsets me. Saying that was her size at her “lowest point” where she ate whatever she wanted and drank beer all the time doesn’t show that a size 12 can still be a healthy size, even if some people have gotten there using unhealthy methods. 

I proudly declare that I wear a size 12 and I’m not unhealthy or at my “lowest” point in health. The only way I can get any lower than a size 10 would be if you cracked off part of my hip bones because I got the “hips” in the family. I am petite, curvy and “full-figured” but I am not ashamed of the size I wear, nor do I feel the need to torture and deny myself everything so I can crash diet another 18 pounds off my frame. If I feel like my overall package is healthy and fit, who the hell cares if I wear a size 12 or 6? I could actually be healthier than some of the size 6 women running around.

So when I see women who declare they wore a size 12/14 “before” they lost all this weight, it says to me that because I’m stranded on “size 12 island” that I will never achieve the Hollywood glamour that they have with the help of starving themselves and exercising 14 hours a day. Who has time for that? I want to eat!

Now this is only my opinion and I could be very wrong in my assumptions, but it’s always disappointing to me to see a woman as self-confident and secure as Jennifer cave to what the media says is healthy and beautiful. I’m not embarrassed by how I look so now it’s time to grab a drink and settle back on “size 12 island,” and watch the sun set, and clap.

Monday, August 18, 2008

Random Monday and a wedding shower!

My apartment is a mess and I have a ton of paper to shred, like Enron-style, so I'm keeping this one short tonight with a nice list of random bullets and bloggy "house cleaning."
  • I'm making guest appearances again: I'm guest blogging over at I'm a Mom in Real Life today and making a partial guest appearance over at Random Ramblings About My Crazy Life. Seriously, my stomach almost needed to be pumped from the amount of yogurt I consumed for that latter post. Check me out!
  • Reunion follow up: My outfit choice that everyone weighed in on got a really good response. People commented multiple times about the color and how cute it looked altogether. And of course I told them that my blosse has great taste :) For the first time in a while, I didn't take pictures and honestly in that setting, it would have been too weird. Sorry :(
  • Wedding shower gift: Thanks to everyone who weighed in on this - I'm not always the best gift giver, especially under a time crunch. Fortunately, my stepmom saved me and we went in on a gift together from the registry. The couple is now the recipient of a lovely coffee maker from the registry!!
Wedding shower recap:

The wedding shower I went to this weekend was actually a lot of fun and very efficient! My two favorite things.

My stepmom did the most amazing flower arrangements, which went first in the "shower games," which consisted of guests telling stories about marriage or about the happy couple. I didn't really have stories to contribute under either topic so fortunately I wasn't picked.

Mimosa's were served but I opted for straight champagne instead. Why dress it up sometimes? So I was the "alcoholic" at the table, taking pictures for my aunt and talking progressively louder as time went on. But I wasn't driving so I just tuned those naysayers out.

The best story that was shared at the shower came from a friend of my aunt, who had her 4-5 year old daughter with her. In summary, the woman's now-husband was going to propose with her grandmother's antique engagement ring. Once he decided to propose, he had to take the ring to be sized and the wife eventually noticed it was gone and figured out it was because of the forthcoming proposal. When the husband found out she knew he had the ring, he came home one night from work, changed clothes and followed her into their bedroom where he threw the ring, still in the box at her saying, "well you already know this is coming so just put it on."

AND SHE DID. And that is the "romantic" story she shared about how she was proposed to. To close the story she said, "and he still surprises me every day," to which I responded, "what else does he throw at her?"

That was by far the best story. The other ones dealt somehow with the bride, groom or members of the wedding party getting wasted before the wedding. But that I expected to hear :)

Sunday, August 17, 2008

I survived my high school reunion

And yes, I feel very secure in my life choices :)

To be honest, my head is kind of jumbled about the entire experience so you'll have to forgive if this post is a little all over the place.

So last night I arrived fashionably late to my high school reunion, which was held at a "Chinese-American sports bar" near the ballpark and a cemetery. What makes a sports bar "Chinese-American?" Apparently it's if the bar serves Chinese food, along with traditional bar food. We had a fine feast of cheese, veggies and crackers, along with egg rolls, mozzarella marinara and meatballs. Random much?

When I arrived at the reunion, I must have looked nervous because the greeter girls from my 1998 class were very fake-sweet to me and the first thought running through my head as they looked me up and down was, "damn you guys got fat." Awful I know. 

This may be a surprise to some, but I get very shy in social situations like this. Normally I'm very assured and talkative, but last night I felt like it was the first day of school...again. 

Since high school, about 90 percent of my class moved back to my hometown so they all see each other on occasion and those of us who moved out of state kind of fit in where we can. I moved past a lot of my old high school drama and issues but being around these people again brought all of the insecurities back up. I was awkward and uncomfortable and somewhat hesitant to talk to some of my classmates because after 10 years, what was there to really say?

I was fortunate to catch up with a few friends, and one of them now lives in Chicago, so if nothing else, I realized last night who I should make a bigger effort to keep in touch with now that I've seen them in person.

Sadly, I did not get as many "Jess you look amazing" comments I kind of hoped for, but a few people said that so something is better than nothing :)

And another guy told me I was "brave" for living in Chicago. Apparently he wouldn't let his woman go off and live in the big city, so despite his hotness, we will not be dating.

Here are some other notable things about the evening:
  • Most of the "popular, pretty" women are still popular (with each other) and pretty, bummer
  • All of the women who had big careers plans, such as medicine, law or business are now all stay-at-home-moms and the women who just wanted to be married and moms are now in great jobs and are unmarried (me included)
  • Just about everyone in my class smokes now, which made me smell like an ashtray by the time I left
  • The obnoxious women from high school are still a pain and tried to hold on to their "high school glory," which just makes them look like an ass 10 years later. Last night there was a lot of "wooing" and one woman tried to put the mascot uniform on while her catty friends hovered around with cameras. That was cue to start gathering up my stuff
Finally, I wanted to share the best quote I heard all night, courtesy of a girl I was pretty good friends with in high school. With her husband standing next to her, she comments, "yeah I think about divorcing him [her husband] all the time, but why should I settle for part of the paycheck when I can get the whole thing?"

I had zero idea what to say in response, especially when she proceeded to tell me how much of his current wages she would garnish in child support. That's when I excused myself for another drink. But around midnight, people who had to engage in on-the-surface small talk were growing tired of straining for conversation topics (myself included) so I called it a night.

So as I walked back to my car about midnight with a belly full of MGD and a serious desire to go to sleep, I'm still glad I went and got to see a lot of the people I went to high school with. It's an experience I highly recommend to anyone, even if it's just to say you went once.

In the end, I wasn't sure what to expect in going and my thought that I would have some kind of epiphany or revelation while there didn't happen either. I'm still happier and better off than I was in high school, so if nothing else, I got to show them that and find that many of the "misguided" choices I thought I made in the last 10 years, put me in a better place than some others who made them as well.

Trust me, when you've been the butt of teasing and bullying, there is nothing more satisfying than being asked by your torturer what you do and seeing the look of defeat on their face when you tell them and they nicely say back, "wow that's great, good for you." And they mean it because they know they peaked at 18.

Woo hoo, class of 1998!!

Friday, August 15, 2008

The winner of my reunion outfit poll

Before we get to the winner, I want to thank everyone for voting. I was seriously blown away by the number of responses I got. No joke. It was beyond my wildest dreams.

Also, I want to let each of my outfit choices know that you are all winners and my selection was not personal. And just because you weren't selected for the reunion, I have big plans for each of you.

So the outfit that I'll be wearing Saturday night at my 10-year high school reunion is.....

Outfit #2!!!!!! Woo!!!!! Congratulations!!

You will be paired with a cute pair of dark jeans and adorable silver flats!

Thank you again everyone for voting, it was a difficult decision in the end, but all of your feedback did lead me to make specific plans for the other outfits, so they don't feel left out.

Outfit #1 will be worn on Saturday to the wedding shower I'm going to, with a nice flirty white skirt.

Outfit #3 is super sexy and flattering so I plan to wear that for my birthday next weekend. It's perfect for that event. Guys you better pay attention.

I'm back on Monday with a full recap of the reunion (with pictures!) so have a great weekend everyone. Anyone else have been weekend plans to share?

Thursday, August 14, 2008

My love/hate relationship with wedding registries

I really love wedding registries but right now I find them stress-inducing.

Saturday I have a shower for my cousin's fiancee and I'm freaking out about getting them a gift. I don't have a car in Chicago so getting to Target isn't the most convenient trip around town and I totally spaced (until Tuesday) that her her shower is Saturday and I don't have a gift yet, and likely won't be able to get one until Friday when I'm back in Wisconsin.

Basically, I hate feeling rushed to get a gift and then still have to wrap it. I'm not a big "frills" person when it comes to wrapping, although I always appreciate the effort when it comes from friends. My friend Liz is the best gift wrapper I know. At Christmas, I want to make a gift wrapping sweat shop and lock her in the basement to wrap all of my gifts for me, while only giving her a thimble of water and 25 cents for her work. And if I know Liz, I think she'll be okay with that.

So tonight I checked out their registry at Target and it's pretty picked over. Sh*t. In the interest of time, is it tacky to just give them a Target gift card (nicely wrapped - in a card) so they can go get whatever they want? I hope so because that's the way I'm leaning right now.

Ironically, despite the recent stress, I do love wedding registries. Several women I work with are getting married this fall/spring and I love hearing about the details and what they're working on now. I told RebeccaC on Friday that several people I know who are or recently got married complain about registering for gifts, which I just don't understand. I think it's fun. I helped my parents when they got married and it was like Christmas, but not.

I'm thinking of starting a registry consulting side-job, where I meet with the couple, identify color patterns and items they would like to replace and register for and then I go off and do it for them (with a monetary fee of course). I think it's a great idea. And I like to think that I have very good taste :) Heck I'm furniture consulting for Ryan for free! What's up with that?

Thoughts? Is a gift card tacky??

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

What should I wear to my high school reunion?

So Saturday is a double-whammy for me. I have a wedding shower in the afternoon and then (insert drumroll here) 10 year high school reunion at night, both of which are in Wisconsin.

And because I'm indecisive, I can't figure out what to wear. The shower isn't a problem, I have a cute skirt/shirt combo to wear, but the reunion is throwing me a bit.

It's being held at a local sports bar (love it) so jeans are a must because I don't want to go too dressy (especially when the Brewers are on in the background and likely a stuffed deer head will be over the bar) but I have a few criteria for the outfit that I will wear that evening:
  • Look age-appropriate and not trashy
  • Figure-flattering
  • Show off my "gun show"
  • Look put-together but not too matchy-matchy
  • Try not to look like I was indecisive about selecting my outfit
Not an easy bill to fill. And I'm trying to avoid going and buying something brand-new for the reunion because a) it's at a sports bar and b) I will likely not keep in touch with most of these people after that night so I don't want to waste money on it.

So I trashed the closet tonight and came up with three options to choose from, with an alternate option four (going to buy a new outfit), which could be my last resort.

Because I cannot decide, I'm opening it up for feedback. Check out the below options and let me know which one I should wear to the reunion. I'll announce the outfit winner Friday and have a full recap on Monday (with pictures!)

Outfit #1

Top: Banana Republic with bold necklace

Outfit #2

Top: Old Navy tank under a J.Crew cami and a long-sleeve V-neck to wear over that (in case it gets cool at night)

Outfit #3

Top: Banana Republic (noticing a trend?) strapless, empire-waist with velvety-ribbon to highlight the bosom. 

Drawback: I don't want to look like I was topless in photos. I don't have it out for free.

Outfit #4 - TBD - Get my butt to Banana Republic and find something new

I'm looking forward to everyone's thoughts on this :) Remember, I want to look hot and like I haven't made bad life decisions.

Monday, August 11, 2008

Everyday Adventures guest blog appearances

So instead of a crazy post on this blog today, check me out on two other great blogs:

Guest blog appearance #1:

Fabulously Broke in the City features an "interview" with me on shopping and fashion (two things I love)

Guest blog appearance #2:

Half Deserted Streets has also posted my contribution to the Testament series.

My entry is fairly personal and covers the painful break up with my ex Peter (who was bad at leading when making out). So be kind when you read it. I've already been told it's sad by a few people who read it before it was posted.

It was purely coincidental that these were both posted on the same day!

Either way, enjoy these guest posts and we will return to our regularly scheduled programing shortly!

Sunday, August 10, 2008

And the blog awards go to...

I've been a bad blogger.

Rachel, Jess NYC and NuttyCow were kind enough to give me awards and I have been very delinquent in spreading the bloggy love.

So to boost some self-esteem on this gorgeous Sunday, below are the awesome awards I was given and who I have decided to pay them forward to.

Award #1: 

The lucky recipients:
  • Mandy - Her blog gives me a break from the city and appreciate the quieter life
  • Stephanie - She was one of the first blogs I read and she's an Office/30 Rock fanatic like me
  • Kay - Gives me great tips and ideas about decorating my apartment/dream apartment
  • Dan Mega - I not only love his name, but also the guy just cracks me up with his short posts. Discuss. Done
  • Angela - Met up with me in San Fran and is stepping into video blogging. Plus I love hearing about the crime lab
Now, here are the award's rules:

1. You have to pick 5 blogs that you consider deserving of this award for their creativity, design, interesting material, and also contribute to the blogging community, no matter what language.

2. Each award has to have the name of the author and a link to her/her blog to be visited by everyone.

3. Each award winner has to show the award and put their name and link to the blog that presented her/him with the award.

4. The award winner and one has who has given the prize have to show the link "Arte y Pico" blog so everyone will know the origin of this award

5. Show these rules

Award #2

Fortunately, there are no "rules" for this award, outside of passing it on to seven other fabulous bloggers. 

Here are the fabulous bloggers I've selected:
  • RebeccaC - She's an awesome knitter and cook, plus she saves me samples of the food she brings into work
  • Jenn & Jamie - I adore both of these wonderful ladies. Jamie was one of the first non-family/friend bloggers to comment on my site (plus she has gorgeous hair) and Jenn is one of the sweetest people I know
  • Kayleigh - She is one of the coolest people I know (also sweet). I love her style and she has the best/most frightening El stories I've ever heard
  • Katelin - I met her at BlogHer and proceeded to "stalk" her the entire time
  • Vanessa - Another BlogHer buddy and she's famous now that she's in the Times!
  • Fabulously Broke in the City - She loves fashion like me and provides great tips about personal finance and pictures from fashion shows
  • Gretchen - Another office fan and I love her blog header (think Scrabble)
So those are my winners - congrats to everyone. It was really hard to pick because I read/know a lot of great bloggers, but should more awards arrive, there is more love to share :)

Coming soon, my first pay-it-forward contest!! Woo hoo!

Thursday, August 7, 2008

Toto I don’t think we’re in Chicago anymore

I’m back!!!!! Miss me? That’s a rhetorical question to some of you ;) So I’m officially back in Chicago/civilization and I won’t lie, it’s bittersweet. While I was gone, of course I missed things like: central air, television and available Internet, but there are some things about being not only on vacation, but also in the “middle of nowhere” that is very soothing. Being in northern Wisconsin changed my routine from going 80 mph to about 10 mph in no time. And I loved it, but now I feel like I was hit by a Mack truck in the process of adjusting back to my life here. 

I have over 200 photos from my several days away, but I’ll spare sharing all of them with you and pick some of my favorites. I’ve also compiled a list below of things that I encountered on my vacation, which I thought were notable for everyone. Trust me, there are more differences between northern Wisconsin and Chicago than I could have imagined.

In northern Wisconsin...

-- Bars close at 10:30 p.m.

-- People gather in groups at parks to watch the sun set every night (and clap when it does)

-- Spotted Cow is the unofficial “town drink”

-- Drinks are $4-6 each (even for “tall” Long Island Ice Teas – and no they don’t skimp on the liquor)

-- Gelato or cherry pie is the dessert of choice

-- Everyone you meet says “good morning” or “good afternoon” and it freaks you out for the first day or two

-- No one cares what you look like. I lived for several days in tank tops and jersey skirts, which were still flattering after a full meal and a “Buddha belly”

-- Wild turkeys and/or foxes are not an uncommon scene on a golf course

-- Every sunset looks like a colorful explosion in the sky and you can see real stars!

-- No one judges if you're already drunk when you show up to a restaurant for dinner (guilty!)

Sunset from the beach

As you would expect, the term “fine dining” is pretty subjective in northern Wisconsin, which I love. Why? Because by day two of my vacation, I stopped wearing makeup (the horror!) and wore “dirty clothes” too when we were out. And I didn’t care! That’s huge for me. But the “fine dining” establishment we visited Tuesday night was a bar/bowling alley/restaurant combo. And the best part? You have to walk through the bowling alley to get to the bar to get to the restaurant. Classy. Dad even gave me a quarter to play an arcade game (which playing while drunk on champagne is interesting.) We go to this restaurant every time we’re in northern Wisconsin and I still get the same thing: fried chicken and cottage cheese with Dole peach slices. Yes, it’s juvenile, but that food is finger-lickin’ good and it makes me feel like a kid again.

Finally, while Spotted Cow is the unofficial drink, the other regional drink in northern Wisconsin is the “cherry bomb,” which consists of: vodka, cherry juice and a splash of Sprite.

Cherry Bomb!

After several bad experiences, vodka isn’t my cup of tea, but this drink was amazing. I didn’t taste the vodka at all (good/bad thing) and it was sneakishly potent. After about two of them I realized that I WAS TALKING VERY LOUDLY and slid off my seat. Two drinks for $10 and I’m feeling good. Chicago can’t beat those prices.

So in closing, vacation was fun, I got to embrace my "non-makeup" look and dad made it to the championship round of his golf tournament, where he unfortunately lost. Next time, I'm staying up there longer as his "good luck" charm. Whenever he has made it to the championship round, I've never been around to watch and he has always lost. Sign?? Plus I can drive the golf cart more (yay!) and make "ahhhhh" noises as we go over the bumps. That doesn't get old either.

View from the golf cart

Oh and a local cab company told me I'm "abusive" and can't call them anymore for service. Agree to disagree. Welcome back to the city! Rage Girl made quite a mess in that situation.

Anyone else have big weekend plans?

Monday, August 4, 2008

Vince Lombardi meets Suzy Homemaker on crack

Yes that must be quite an image.

I'm technically on vaca right now, doing my time in northern Wisconsin where there is no cell phone access or Internet, except at this nifty little cafe with Wifi, where I now find refuge from a house full of people, including my dad, stepmom, stepbrother and his girlfriend.

The reason we're in northern Wisconsin is because of a golf tournament at the local state park. My dad has played in this tournament for the last 28+ years. It's a tradition in the family every summer to drive four hours north to this little piece of 1950s heaven and get away from the city, horns, drunk baseball fans and work. No McDonalds, cable television or Starbucks. It's a test of your attention span and how well you can entertain yourself. 

And as one of the women in our group, I wake every day of the golf tournament and join my dad on the course, dutifully playing Suzy Homemaker for him until my stepmom arrives, when I then turn into a rabid fan.

This is a very serious job for anyone joining us for the golf tournament and as a woman you're required golf tournament duties entail:
  • Waking at an ungodly hour to join your man (in this case my dad) on the course
  • Provide moral support
  • Drive the golf cart and surrender it upon command
  • Cheer when your man does well
  • Say nothing when do they badly on a hole
  • Pick up golf clubs that have been thrown aside in anger
  • Take pictures
  • Keep score
  • Bring and maintain the cooler for yours and your man's cart - provide them with the requested food when necessary
  • Chat with the other daughters, wives and girlfriends before the 10th hole, bragging about how your man is doing
Yes, I'm Suzy Homemaker on crack and while I'm a feminist and independent woman, I don't mind doing this stuff once a year. Even if the golf course bathrooms/out houses are beyond atrocious, it's another sign of how much I love my dad.

Last year, my dad was playing against a long-time friend of his, and whoever won that day's match would go on to the championship round the next day. My dad was beating this guy by only a few holes and I could tell that the thought of having to eliminate his friend from the tournament was weighing on him. So I did what any good supporter would do and I gave him a Vince Lombardi-like pep talk. 

Me: What's wrong?
Dad: I'm only up by one hole, if I win this next one, Mr. X is out of the tournament
Me: So?
Dad: Well I feel bad
Me: What? Don't feel bad, do you think Mr. X is going to give up his seat in the championship because he would feel bad about beating you?
Dad: No
Me: That's right, someone has to lose today and it's going to be him, it sucks but you're not a loser, we're winners, you raised me to be a winner and now you're going to be
Dad: I raised you to be a leader
Me: Whatever, go out there and beat him and if it makes you feel better, don't crush him, but win, win, win, win!
Dad: You're right
Me: No shit I'm right, go team!

And my dad did win and I made sure to clap and cheer when he did. I think it boosted his self-esteem for the championship round the next day. Unfortunately he lost, but he played well.

Well it's time for me to go back to our rented house, change for dinner and pack my dad's cooler for the next day. My voice is actually kind of sore from cheering today too so I should rest. One of the wives was giving me a "look" today when I was bragging about how well my dad was playing (unbeknownst to me, he was playing against her husband). Time to sharpen the nails in case she gets in my face. Yes I'm a scratcher and a biter.

Full vaca wrap-up will be coming this week, I have plenty of unique photos to share, but I leave you today with this image of a little visitor (aka a wild turkey) that came out on the 7th hole today.