Monday, March 30, 2009

My love/hate relationship with high heels

Because I'm 5' 3", high heels should be my best friend. They give me me height, make my legs look longer and help with my posture.

But sometimes, they are the most awful things in the entire world. Yes, the entire world.

Why shoes? Why do you hate me so much! I help make you look pretty!

I've had two events in the last week where I wore high heels, looked smoking hot and then was in total agony by the end of the night. Like, I could barely walk because the pain was so bad.

On Saturday night at the wedding, I had to abandon my Payless shoes because I could barely walk from the high heel-induced pain. Fortunately, we were indoors, the floor was relatively clean and I was wearing tights.

I went from wearing these heels:

To this, and felt immediately better after (plus I couldn't wait to go dance again):

I'm apparently not one of those women who can breeze down 5th or Michigan Avenues in her Carrie Bradshaw-like heels or stand for hours on end looking pain-free and fabulous.

I have some heels that I know aren't "going out" practical, but they sure look good while I sit at my desk :) Actually, I have several pairs of those.

Despite this agony, I won't stop wearing heels, but rather, will maybe invest in these cute Foot Petal pads that my stepmom told me about, or embrace my "Mr. Rogers-like" practice of wearing sneakers while walking outside and then changing into other shoes for the main event.

A message to all high heels, I love you, but like the b*tch you are, you hurt me too.

Am I the only one who has a love/hate relationship with high heels? They do look so good on the rack but can be painful after about 15 minutes of standing.

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Key learnings, snow and wedding recap

I woke up this morning to a winter wonderland. Seriously. Blizzard-like conditions in Chicago with several inches by 8 a.m. Here are some pictures: snow, more snow. I was rather perplexed by this (and irritated) so I hibernated (with candy) and caught up on more reading, so let's hit the key learnings.

Key Learnings:
  • High heels look sexy but they are the devil
  • No matter how full I am, there is always room for candy and/or cake
  • I hate asking friends to bum cash when I accidentally leave it at home (which rarely happens)
  • When buying a dress, fit is key, but make sure you leave some room to eat (sometimes, you need it)
  • Groomsmen always look a little hotter than normal at a wedding, something about the suit
  • Sometimes on a bad day, Chipotle can taste like sweet heaven
  • Some of the best Friday nights include: comfy pants, magazines and cleaning out the DVR, all while relaxing on the couch
  • RedBox may be my new best friend
  • The movie Australia isn't great, but Hugh Jackman without a shirt is on fabulous
  • Twilight is much better upon second viewing, coupled with low expectations for the film
  • When dumpster diving, dress appropriately, if possible
  • Cobblestone and high heels do not mix well 
I mentioned last week that I was nervous about going to a wedding sans date, but I have to say, I had a great time going as a single lady.

TKTC and my co-worker Laura were my "dates" to Rebecca's wedding at the Conservatory last night and everything was just beautiful. Despite the rain and cooler temps, everyone had a great time in a gorgeous setting of flowers and plants. Check out this picture of us sexy ladies!

So the JCrew dress was out because of the weather, but I still think my backup outfit works :)

The food was amazing (imagine seasoned chicken breast, chilled pea soup, bacon wafer and full candy bar) and we had a choice of six amazing cakes from Bon Bon to pick from, including margarita, mango and strawberry shortcake. For me, the mango and strawberry shortcake were the best and let's just say, I was STUFFED by the end of dinner service.

And although I forgot my plastic baggie for the candy bar, the bride and groom provided some for us (thank goodness!) and I had a nice treat to enjoy today, starting at 9:45 a.m. Thanks to Twitter support, it's apparently never too early to get started.

It was such a nice evening. The ladies and I gossiped, talked, laughed and had a great time. They were great company, and I was able to catch up with my knitting crew, who all looked lovely. The best touch of the night had to be the awesome placecard/drink savers we all received too. Rebecca is so sweet, keeping me from having a roofie put in my beverage :) Awesome idea.

Anyhow, Rebecca looked stunning and as always, hosted a wonderful party. Congrats to the bride and groom! 

So how was everyone else's weekend? See any movies or do anything fun?

Reader notes: Thanks everyone for playing the Desert Island game. Know there was a lot of information to include in that post so feel free to go back and add answers or answer just a few of them. I realized after a few comments that I asked for a lot :)

Thursday, March 26, 2009

The Desert Island game

Okay, I'm in final prep for a busy weekend full of birthday parties and weddings, so I'm keeping this one light tonight.

I love the Office and in season two's episode, "The Fire," Jim and everyone play a game called, "Desert Island," where they list the top five movies, books, television shows they would bring with them to a desert island. Oh and I have a little version of the other game they played "who would you do?" too at the end ;)

So to kick off the weekend, I thought I would play this game with all of you!

Here are my answers:

  • Tommy Boy
  • Casino
  • Enchanted
  • Bridget Jones' Diary
  • Love Actually
  • Anything by Jennifer Weiner or Emily Giffin
  • Vanity Fair (makes me feel smart)
  • People
  • Us Weekly (I need my gossip)
  • Twilight series
Television shows:
  • Office (yeah, that's not a surprise)
  • Arrested Development
  • 90210 (original version)
  • O.C.
  • Colbert Report
Now the question is: Who would you rather do? (aka "hook up" with)

1. John Krasinski - Robert Pattinson

2. George Clooney - Brad Pitt

3. Jon Hamm - Joe Jonas

4. Larry the Cable Guy - Stewie
My answers: 1 - John Krasinski, 2 - George Clooney, 3- Jon Hamm, 4 - Um, do I have to pick?

I'm curious to read everyone's answers! 

This weekend is the wedding I mentioned yesterday and Miss Jamie's birthday. I'll have pictures and stories to share!

What is everyone else up to this weekend?

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Being the single girl at a wedding

Despite being a social person, I hate going to events alone. I have a tendency to be the awkward girl lingering by the door, frantically texting or scanning the crowd for a familiar face.

Which is why I'm a little nervous about going single to a wedding this weekend. I've been single at weddings before, but I always brought a guest with me. 

But this time, I decided to go on my own after talking/begging two guy friends to go with me, only to have one turn me down and the other to conveniently be out of town. Asshats. However, after talking to two co-workers who will also be there single, I decided to be bold and go on my own. Oh it's Ladies Night for us.

But despite being single, independent women at this lovely wedding, I can't help but feel a little nervous, considering I only know a handful of people that will be there.

Here's what I'm not looking forward to about being single at a wedding:
  • The stares. The oh-you're-so-brave-and-independent-so-we-won't-talk-about-it stares with silent judging and nods of encouragement
  • Pressure. The inevitable, lingering pressure to hook up or keep yourself open to finding "the one" at the open bar or buffet table
  • Slow songs. It's like being back at a high school dance, but without a date. Which means during slow songs I'll be saddled up to the bar, swearing like a trucker and dreaming of a cigarette
  • Bouquet toss. I don't know if the couple is actually doing it, but I've never caught one, yet don't want to look too desperate in reaching for it to see what sucker catches the garter
To overcompensate for these things, I've spent a painful amount of time picking out an outfit, to dress up the fact that I will be drinking heavily to feel more comfortable.

Maybe if I look good with the "girls" and my other single ladies, this won't be too bad. It's an evening wedding so I'm even planning to trying to hit up the gym earlier in the day so the "gun show" is locked and loaded for the evening.

Oh and since there will be a candy bar, I need to stuff Ziploc bags in my purse for treats to take home. Yes, you heard me right. I will be munching on candied apple slices and M&Ms on the bus ride home.

So how have you survived weddings that you've gone solo to, or what things bother you the most about weddings? From cash bar to bad food to awful music?

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Common Threads gala & Top Chef superfan

You all know that I'm not the best in the kitchen, but I love a good meal and last night I was very fortunate to attend the Common Threads World Festival 2009 at the Museum of Contemporary Art, which had food and chefs from some of Chicago's best restaurants.

Common Threads was co-founded by chef Art Smith to educate children on the importance of nutrition and teach them to make proper food choices through cooking education. It's a really great cause.

I'm writing this recap and noshing on caramel popcorn from Graham Elliott (in a convenient Chinese take-out box,) thinking of how I can recap this great evening for everyone. So we'll do it in a bulleted form!

Here are some highlights:
  • Seeing Gail Simmons, Top Chef judge and Food & Wine editor, within the first two minutes of arriving and saying (loudly,) "OMG it's Gail, I die!" FYI: she is gorgeous in person, skinny and petite while rocking sky-high heels
  • Hunting down Stephanie Izard from Top Chef Season 4 and over enthusiastically saying how excited I am to meet her, like several times, oh and how I "hunted her down" to meet her. Probably thinks I'm c-r-a-z-y!
  • Saying hi to Mr. Graham Elliott Bowles himself and having him offer to shove leftover caramel popcorn in my purse. Really wish I brought a bigger bag
  • Best meal: Pork and pasta by Michelle Bernstein. Why was it so good? Perfectly cooked meat that melts in your mouth. Why was it also good? Butter and cream. Num and nummier
  • Best meal runners-up: Goat cheese from Les Nomades and Swedish pancake with goat cheese from Blackbird
  • Most bittersweet dish: Pork and shrimp by Stephanie Izard. It was good, but a little underseasoned for my taste. Still love her though
  • Best drink: Trust me, I behaved myself, but the champagne, Gran Marnier and pomegranate juice concoction was very lovely
  • Other reality-star sighting: Ken from season two of Make Me A Supermodel (he was smiling with his eyes)
Also, while I am sometimes awkward in social situations, I was a TOTAL ham at the party. I had a list of people I wanted to meet and I hunted them all down to say hi. I went right up to Gail Simmons, Stephanie Izard and Radhika from Top Chef and geeked out about how excited I was to meet them. What can I say, I'm a huge Top Chef fan.

I know not everyone may know who these people are, but I had to share this because it was a great night and a great treat to go. Plus, I got to get semi-dressed up in a cute Banana Republic jersey LBD and shoes, which were torture devices near the end of the night. And, I got to sample great, fancy food I would never be able to make. Well, maybe if I could just move beyond making pasta at home....

So the question for everyone tonight is...what is your favorite restaurant/dish to order when you go out? One of my colleagues admitted tonight she's a huge Olive Garden fan, never would have guessed that!

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Key learnings, birthday PIMP and buzzkill

Well, it's Sunday again. Why don't my weekdays fly by this fast? Right now I'm sitting in my apartment with nail polish drying on my toes (which I can't feel because of the toe-separaters) so let's knock out some key learnings before one of my little piggies falls off.

Quick note: I've been doing a lot better at updating my Tumblr blog, which will focus on fun things I find online that I want to own or recently bought. I thought it would be  fun way to showcase some fun shopping/fashion stuff. Check it out and let me know if you have one too so I can add you to my "follow" list.

Key Learnings:
  • One of the worst feelings is knowing you're going to throw up and you have to wait for it to happen
  • There is no shame in walking into a store and saying quickly, "hey chicky, where is your bathroom?" It's better than taking care of your business outside the front door
  • Even if the "club scene" isn't for you, it's still fun to go indulge in it once in a while
  • Brunch with friends is a weekend requirement, same with naps on the couch
  • When you go shopping to look for one specific item, you rarely find exactly what you're looking for (I have more luck when I'm not looking for something in particular)
  • It's okay to put clothes on over your street ones to avoid the dressing rooms. But be discreet
  • Champagne in a can tastes...not awful, but stick with it in bottles
  • Sleeping past 8 a.m. on a weekend will likely never happen again (stupid weekday sleep schedule!)
  • Trading the puffy coat for a spring fleece is a great feeling
  • You always get sick at the inopportune times
  • If you find an item of clothing you love and that fits well, buy it in at least one other color
Weekend Buzzkill
I've been really lucky this winter with not getting sick. I don't know if it was the flu shot but for once, I've not had any head cold, traditional cold or sinus infections. That is until a stomach bug decided to pay me a visit Thursday night through Saturday mid-day. Yes, it was glorious (I'm being sarcastic).

After about two-and-a-half days of hugging the bowl, eating mostly to toss it back up again and sleeping only a few hours a night, I'm ready for this BS to be over with. I was also hoping the bug would have been gone yesterday when my parents came in town for a visit, but alas no. Dad was forwarned about this and I really tried to rally because I didn't want to ruin their visit, but let's just say...I can't go back to Pottery Barn on North Avenue for a while. 

Here is a list of other things the stomach bug ruined for me this weekend:
  • Parent visit (the car ride to North Avenue was rough)
  • Brunch at Table Fifty-Two (parents wanted to go but it was rescheduled due to my stomach)
  • Brunch at Nordstrom Cafe (had to settle for a few spoonfuls of soup over my favorite salad ever and dessert)
  • Joy in shopping for cocktail dresses (swollen stomach = three-months preggers look)
  • Saturday morning breakfast (let's just say, I saw it again)
  • Excitement about friend's birthday dinner at Vermillion (I was scared my stomach wouldn't handle the food)
So while the stomach flu won the war, I was able to enjoy a cupcake at Molly's with my parents. I'll take what I can get.

And I'm pleased to say that there were no puppy kicking incidents during their visit. My stepmom was actually concerned about how I was doing, offering me water, soup and even breaks to sit and relax. Let's hope this trend continues!

Birthday P-I-M-P
After a full day with my parents, I gathered with friends to celebrate my buddy Liz's birthday. First up, dinner at Vermillion (Latin/Indian fusion) in River North. I'm open to trying new foods and I have to say, my coconut chili mussels did not disappoint. I even had the "fusion-style" ribs for dinner, and while they were good, it was a little too overseasoned/charred-looking for me. Yes, this probably isn't the best food to be feeding an unhappy stomach, but let's just say, we were seated near the bathroom in case I needed to get there.

And when it's your best friend's birthday, not even a stomach flu will keep you down.

Dinner was great and then we headed over to Hub 51, where a friend had a connection on the inside. What was supposed to be a table and drinks turned into a VIP booth at it's Sub 51 room downstairs, coat check, personal waitress and drink samplers. I won't lie, this was cool. And it got even cooler when our connection sent over a bottle of Snow Queen vodka (chilled of course) with Red Bull, tonic, soda water and cranberry juice, plus cans of Sofia's champagne in can and something called "a.m.," which I'm pretty sure could kill me if consumed in mass quantities. 

I am absolutely not a raging party girl or an active clubber, but it was cool to feel VIP for a few hours. And let me tell you, that waitress made a mean vodka cranberry and made hotpants look good again.

And let's just say, the women's bathroom was an interesting scene. I think my tweet of "Grey Goose-soaked cougar den..." says it all.

How was everyone else's weekend? I laid low today to prepare for Art Smith's Common Threads gala tomorrow night at the Museum of Contemporary Art. I'm not totally feeling my outfit for it, but it will do.

Reader shopping note:
Because so many of you asked about the dress and shoes from Thursday's post, I've included a link to each below:
  • Shoes: Nine West - Maytime heel (note: this is the style of shoe I'm planning to wear, but it's solid gold and not textured)

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Fashion trends I don't understand

Lately, I've been in a spot where all those "moments" when I need something, like a cocktail dress or cute wedding outfit are actually happening and I look in my closet and see no options. Or if I do, they all need altering (the downside to working out) and won't be ready in time to said event. Which is why a dress for a wedding is en route to me now and I will be recreationally shopping for a cocktail dress this weekend. UGH.

And even looking ahead to spring, I'm back to hating everything in my closet because many of the items are finally old enough where they need to be donated. Thus, I am in the midst of heavy spring clothing shopping and to add to my frustration, I'm not loving some of the trends that I'm seeing.

I am not a fashionista but I am puzzled because several of them do not work for my body type: petite, curvy, full chest, etc.

I'm not knocking any of these trends, but I'm just not sure who buys them. Let's take a look at a few examples:

Thin, black socks with open-toed, strappy shoes? Would you wear that? Without tights and a skirt? Just because it's Burberry doesn't make it right

Popped collar? How have I missed the announcement on this? I do pop a jacket collar but that's it. Are you pro- or anti-popped collar? I hope I don't look like this big of a d-bag when I pop it

I love comfy pants in summer, but these are linen (not practical) and something about the front makes me fear what my camel toe could look like. Also, pants would make my "spare tire" look like two are hidden in there

This just looks unflattering. Saggy boobs? Do I need to buy a dress to make mine look saggier?

I don't hate maxi-dresses but I don't want a dress that will associate me with pregnant celebs...or Katie Holmes

Skirts/dresses are my favorite part of summer, but not when fabric is slapped together for a "sack" look. Even with a belt, it'll look like a mumu

I channel my inner Pam Beesly with cardigans, but the longer ones are not "spare tire" friendly and will pill on the butt. I don't need a pilly butt thank you

Now I'm going to focus on a look I'm very excited about for next weekend. God willing, I will be wearing the following items to an evening wedding. And dare I say, I might look a little hot.

My only fear: this dress has a side zipper, which makes me fear getting it stuck on my broad shoulders and being the "fat girl in a size zip dress." Maybe I'm just paranoid.

So while my mind is spinning with crazy scenarios, let me know if I'm way off base with my judgements here or if you have any "red flags" you want to add about clothing.

What is everyone else up to this weekend? 

My fun plans include a day o'fun with my parents, which means free lunch, lots of attention and at least one puppy kicking incident. Can-not wait. I must brush up on my Vanity Fair reading so I have worldly knowledge to contribute to conversation...and so my parents think I don't watch as much TV as I do :)

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

My fire safety fail

When I find myself in a scary situation, I now know where my priorities are:
  • Gossip Girl
  • Twitter
  • My own safety
Last night I had my first "fire safety" lesson/encounter and let's just say I get a big FAIL. Big FAIL. It appears as though I have ZERO idea what to do when face-to-face with a serious problem. If I can't strategically think my way out of it, I'm worthless.

Let me set the scene for you: last night I'm watching Gossip Girl in my apartment when I smell smoke. And not cooking-on-the-grill smoke but fire smoke. I ignore it, thinking it's not a big deal when then hear a beeping, like from a smoke detector...which isn't stopping either.

So I open my apartment door (after putting some pants on) and was stunned to see the entire hallway filling with smoke. Thinking I was hallucinating, I went back inside, locked the door and sat back down to watch more Gossip Girl (because I love that show) until I am compelled to get back up and check the hallway again, and to no shock see it filled with even MORE smoke. 

Finally, I had a "holy shit" moment, tweeted about the incident, and ran down the hall to find the source of the smoke and knock on my neighbors doors. Hearing a girl in the apartment across from the smoking source, I banged on her door, hearing her angrily telling her friend on the phone to "hold on" so she can answer the "f*cking door." Sorry, next time I won't try to save your life. B*tch.

When I point out to her what's going on, she says to me, "holy shit, what should we do?" Are you kidding me?

"I'll call 911, I guess?" I said, moreso shocked that the person with the phone has no idea what to do. Maybe she was smoking something else in that apartment.

So I run back into my apartment, call 911, put some slippers on and...well evacuate the building (not using the elevator), where the sidewalk is now filling with my building's tenants, including women in various stages of dress, and all of their cats. Apparently I was in the minority of not owning one. And when I saw the cats, I couldn't help but have a flashback to the Office Superbowl episode when Angela tossed her cat to Oscar to save him from the fire. Hilarious.

But the entire time I was out there, I couldn't help but chastise myself about not grabbing my wallet, or Lulu, or Speedy...or a coat. Oh and the odd girl I alerted to the fire was out smoking, next to the fire truck.

Thanks to my Chicago tax dollars, the fire and police departments showed up quickly and went to break down the door to the apartment on my floor. The culprit? Some a-hole left food in the oven and left the oven on when she left the apartment that evening. Fortunately, the fire department didn't have to use the hose but I did have to air out my apartment all last night and today. So it could have been worse but damn that smell was bad.

So it was quite an exciting evening. And while I get a big fire FAIL, I did get to go back in pretty quickly and enjoy the rest of Gossip Girl and my new love, Yoplait Chocolate Mousse Whips. After that excitement, I needed to enjoy my Chuck Bass time with a tasty treat, especially after the show has been in hiatus for so long!

Feel free to begin teasing me about my silly behavior or let me know what you would save if you had to evacuate your apartment right away. Or if you did watch Gossip Girl, what did you think?

Monday, March 16, 2009

Public transportation pet peeves

The CTA (Chicago Transit Authority) is my main source of transportation in the city. Now that I've been car-less for four years and try to use cabs only when absolutely necessary, there is a certain amount of adjusting that happens when you rely on public transport.

For example, you "plan" your trips so you can maximize your time out and about. If I go out for the ATM, I also swing by the store and grab a paper too or only got to the ATM when I'm leaving for dinner. If I want to go somewhere on public transportation, I plan on it taking about 30 minutes because, well most trips anywhere in the city take at least that.

But along with these more minor changes, there are certain other things you have to allow for, like the unusual things you notice on the bus, which inevitably begin to irritate you, such as:
  • Cuddlers - If you really cannot stand to be physically separated, I recommend going back to bed. Then you won't tickle my gag reflex
  • Loud talkers - This includes personal conversations and people on cell phones. One woman was speaking so loud on her cell phone that I could hear her over my iPod, which was IN my ears. Indoor voices!
  • Mistaking the bus for home - It drives me insane when people feel the need to stretch out the morning newspaper on a packed bus. I also enjoy stretching out with the my home. I don't need half of the Times' Business section stretched over me, thanks
  • Excessive PDA - Much like cuddling, I don't need to watch you swap spit and feel each other up. I have Cinemax for that :)
  • Space hogs - I am guilty of this too, but it's an unspoken rule that when the bus fills up, you move your bag from the seat next to you so others can sit down. Yes, it's not as much fun, but it's necessary. People who don't do that are rude
  • Bumper cars - Eek, another thing I'm guilty of, but I really try to avoid this. This includes having people collide into you with their oversize purses or bags. If I had a nickel for every time I was hit in the shoulder or head by a purse, I could pay off my student loan. And one time, after a chick hit me multiple times in the head with her Puma bag, I pulled out a pen and made a mark on the white leather portion of the bag. Burning in hell, I know
  • Personal space issue - I don't really have an issue with this, but after having some guy caress my butt on a packed bus once, I get very nervous when I'm packed in. Especially if the person sandwiched next to or behind me hasn't showered or reeks of cigarettes. That is the worst!
Well those are the top things that irritate me. I may complain, but the CTA still provides me with transportation and provides me with lots of fun stories :)

What are your public transportation pet peeves? Or do you have any great CTA/public transportation stories to share?

Oh and feel free to let me know how glad you are that you don't have to take public transportation because you have a car. I miss my car and I love driving when I go home, but my stories are never quite as interesting as in the city.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Key Learnings, St. Patrick's Day and video games

Holy cow what a great weekend. After some level of productivity (that didn't include liquor,) I am busy laying on the couch like a beached whale, trying to settle my stomach from the green beer and St. Patrick's Day celebrations, while preparing for another week.

So while I continue to whine about having an upset stomach, let's say, "top o'the evening" to some key learnings.

Key Learnings:
  • Green Miller Lite actually takes better than regular Miller Lite
  • Also, Miller Lite is not the best adhesive for a temporary tattoo. Licking it or ice works better (I prefer licking)
  • Watching Chicago dye the river green is one of my favorite touristy things to do each year
  • I am always in the mood for a Starbucks blueberry muffin (and none of that low-fat stuff)
  • Charging $5.75 for beer on St. Patrick's Day is highway robbery, but getting two beers for free by accident is awesome 
  • It's okay to judge a 22 year old woman who is drunk and swerving while standing at McDonald's with her boyfriend. Hey, she could throw up at any moment
  • Watching guys/girls and then girls/girls dry hump each other at a bar is a sign that it's time to go home
  • You should not apologize for staring at some guy who is simulating oral sex on a large glass. I mean, isn't he asking for attention?
  • I need to be better about using the "blogger" card
  • It's okay to call a tourist an "a-hole" when he/she runs into a sitting flock of pigeons, sending these scary, vicious animals flying right at you and your friend
  • Online shopping is an easy way to curb your spending urge, as long as you don't go too overboard
Go Green!
Saturday was St. Patrick's Day in Chicago and it gave everyone in the city a pass to party all day and for some, act like total d-bags. 

But, I was able to indulge in my favorite tradition: watching Chicago turn the river green. I go every year, regardless of weather, and this year my bestie Sarah joined me. Yes, it was cold, but we had a great spot along the river and then met up with some friends at a local bar, where fortunately the line to go in was quick. One free green beer and tons of memorable photos(all now on my Flickr page) later, I was off to continue my productivity and curb the desire for more booze (more on that below.)

Chicago gets pretty crazy on St. Patrick's Day, but I still go out for it every year. And maybe next year is my time to indulge in some day drinking, a la college.

Girls Guide to Gaming
Yes, I behaved myself on Saturday because that evening I was invited to an event sponsored by Nintendo DS. The lovely Jenn and Jamie were our hostesses and it was a mix of food, drinks, DS games and awesome Chicago bloggers. 

I was never a huge "gamer," mostly because my brother and stepbrothers used to hog all of the video games we had in the house. But, I used to play a mean game of Mario Brothers and, well, my Tetris addiction is something I don't talk about. But, this time it was for ladies-only and we got to play fun games like Mario Kart (which I kick butt at), Crosswords, Guitar Hero and Brain Age, which I need to play again because several glasses of champagne can numb the sense a bit :)

The party was a ton of fun, and it was so nice to catch up with my bloggy buddies and have a nice evening out. I even got a DS and game to take home with me! This will make the train ride home in a few weeks more enjoyable. 

When the party closed down about 10 p.m., my new buddy Shanti and I headed up to a bar in Lincoln Park, to meet up with a friend of hers and ohhhhhhh my it was like being back at a college frat party. It was...interesting people watching, and I really wish I was more drunk when I was there. The bar was full of blasting music, glass breaking and girls/guys and girls/girls dry humping/grinding on one another. Oh memories. All I need now is some "jungle juice" in a lined garbage container and I'm back in college for sure! 

I didn't get to fulfill my desire to dance on a bar, but that is best saved for next year. 

How was everyone else's weekend? Did anyone else celebrate St. Patrick's Day?

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Exceptions to my dead inside nature

I may be dead inside, but I still cry during certain books or movies. I'm really not a big crier but sometimes certain moments or scenes just really get me and I've become so engrossed in a character or story that a turn of events just hits me hard.

And because I have grown exceptionally sappy in my late 20s, I still can't control the urge to cry from certain movies and books.

So here is a list of books, movies, etc. that have made me cry. Two of them in particular made me cry so hard that I had to stop watching/reading, get myself together and then go back to finish it.

Steel Magnolias
The funeral scene gets me every time. D*mn you Sally Field!

Terms of Endearment
The last quarter of the movie make me cry every time. D*mn you Shirley MacLaine!

Bridges of Madison County
I can't believe I am admitting that I cried reading this book. Shame

Time Traveler's Wife
One word: SOB. Another two words: convulsing sobs

Eclipse (book #3 in the Twilight series)
I might have been hormonal when reading the end of this, but I cried so hard I couldn't fall asleep afterward

Outside of the cheesiness, the ending was sad, seriously

The scene with Bruce Willis and Liv Tyler gets me. Breaks my heart

My Girl
Loved this movie and the funeral scene, just heartbreaking

So what have I learned from this. I am a S-A-P, much like I'm a S-I-S-S-Y. You may not agree with me on all of these, but there are a few that, well, if you didn't cry, you're the one who is dead inside. Kidding!

Updated: I forgot to add too that I'm a nasty crier. Like my face gets all red, eyes are puffy and makeup runs. During Juno, another movie I cried in, tears started and when my friend Liz looked over at me, I actually said, "look away!" like I was a monster.

What books or movies make you cry every time you watch/read them?

Well tomorrow if Friday and I am wicked excited about this weekend. That's right, wicked. 

Be sure to check back for a full weekend key learnings recap, which should be interesting because on Saturday, Chicago celebrates St. Patrick's Day! Let me know you are all doing anything fun to celebrate.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Puppy kicking

I need to clarify the title of this post because it is not about literally kicking a puppy. It's an expression for the point I want to make.

A friend and I coined the term "puppy kicking" when talking about those of us who seek approval from others. This can be approval from our friends, family or colleagues who we seek recognition or validation from, but who ultimately let us down.

Validation is not a bad thing. It helps encourage you when you're having a bad day and with the simple phrase of "nice job" or "I missed you," it can bring someone totally around. And, it's fast and easy to do. But some of us, or our parents from another generation, are not always the best at doing that.

After my dad remarried, I threw myself at my stepmother to have her recognize me as more than a stepchild. I wanted her to feel the same pride in me that my dad does and include me as part of the family. But the more I tried to win her attention, through trying to cook dinner or take an interest in things she liked, the more I felt left out or like I was trying too hard. Rather than say "you did a good job on..." it was more of what I didn't do right and I would feel defeated.

But every time I go home, I still work to earn her approval, like a wounded puppy lured back to the steal-toed boot, begging for more.

I've found the "puppy kicking" theory doesn't apply as much to work or friend situations because you can be more honest with them because, well, you're not related to them. But family is harder, those rejections and recognitions can hurt more than anything else. I would assume it's the same from a boyfriend/girlfriend, etc.

Many of my friends who claim they don't go back for a "puppy kick" anymore too, I'm sorry but they're wrong, just like I am when I say that. It's a human emotion, as long as you don't let the validation you may not receive rule your life. Look for the validation and recognition you want in the small things because there is always someone who appreciates you and what you do.

I go home again in a few weeks and I'm sure I'll be up for a puppy kick. But I don't let it wound me as much as it used to.

So I don't know if there is a question out there for everyone but I guess I can ask, do you identify with my "puppy kicking" theory? Or how do you deal with situations where you want to be recognized and aren't for one reason or another?

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

The birds on my windowsill must die

In Disney movies, there are always magical birds who befriend the princess, sing along with her, cheer her up and help her get prince charming. As a kid, I wanted to be a Disney princess, complete with my own set of magical birds to wake me every morning.

And now, I do have my own birds, but they are SO not the Disney fairy tale. In fact, they are driving me f*cking crazy.

The ledge outside my bedroom window is a popular gathering place for birds in summer. Why? I have no idea. At first I thought it was kind of charming, having birds greet me when I wake up, but then those little bastards starting singing at 5 a.m. even on weekends and, well they DON'T STOP. 

While I lay in bed, trying to squeeze out the last few minutes of peace before my day starts, those little shits are outside my window, cat calling to each other, or whatever they're doing in bird language.

I won't lie, I can get a little...testy...when I'm woken from a nice slumber, so while birds sing to me early in the morning, I cover my face in my pillow and scream back, "PLEASE FOR THE SWEET LOVE OF GOD SHUT UP!"

They don't understand me. It's almost as if they do it now to purposefully irritate the sh*t out of me.

The other morning, I was woken up early by one in particular that was chirping just outside my screen and I got up and hit the glass, sending him away in fear. Gosh if that works, imagine what will happen when the BB gun or air rifle come out :)

I'll trade the birds for Prince Charming, or the above mentioned gun. Really, I'm not picky, the cosmos can pick for me.

I know it goes with "apartment living" but is it really necessary for birds/car alarms/neighbors to do this to us? What sounds or noises wake you up or keep you up late at night?

Sunday, March 8, 2009

Key Learnings - NYC travel edition

Wow did I get lucky this weekend (not physically.) I left Saturday morning for NYC, when it was just raining moderately in Chicago and now it's a full, blown storm. I've been reading tweets from Chicagoans and it's crazy! Fortunately, the weather in NYC has been 60 and mild the last two days...and I am loving it!

Being in New York has been great, but before we get to that, let's hit the key learnings.

Key Learnings:
  • Everything in NYC is more expensive. Everything

  • Cab drivers are much nicer about paying by credit cards than Chicago drivers (Chicago cabbies should take note)

  • Being awake for nearly 24 hours can start to mess with your head, especially with daylight savings added on
  • Eating a cupcake made from pure sugar will help keep you awake
  • Walking is the best way to see New York, but be sure to take breaks and don't walk 60+ blocks in one trip
  • When an "unmarked" cab driver asks if you want to ride share with a guy who is "out for a smoke," say no
  • Eating with bloggers is the best because everyone takes pictures before we eat
  • Asking me what I "wish" for will automatically get a response of, "a pretty pony"
  • Every accessory you could need can be bought on the street, especially $5 wraps (bought four this weekend. Someone stop me)
  • Snapple is more readily available in NYC than anything else, even water
  • A pet store and bong shop make for interesting retail neighbors. Get baked and then get a dog 50 percent off!
  • Hint: when someone tells you not to take a picture, that doesn't dissuade me, it makes me more determined

Unfortunately, I didn't have a chance to upload any of my pictures from this weekend because Lulu didn't come with me, so those will be coming soon. I got some great photos.

When tourists come to Chicago, we residents are not always the nicest when we talk about them. They flood the sidewalks and ask dumb questions to the bus drivers. But, this time the shoe was on the other foot, as I was a tourist in NYC this weekend. But I like to think I was still "big city savvy" when maneuvering around.

It's late here and I have a big day Monday so here is another list, this time of things I did in NYC this weekend:

  • Met my friend Maris at the Empire State Building (very Sleepless in Seattle)

  • Walked from Midtown to West Village to Upper East Side back to Midtown (my legs were killing me)

  • Waited in line for a Magnolia cupcake (and then went back Sunday for another one)

  • Had an uncomfortably close encounter with a pigeon (I am scared of them)

  • Found my favorite candy at Dylan's Candy Bar and overpaid for it

  • Ate at Craftbar with Ashley and Maris (give it a grade of a B, but I do recommend the appetizers we had: crispy chicken wings with spiced creme fraiche, mushroom bruschetta and chickpea fries)

  • Celebrated Lacey's engagement with awesome New York bloggers and a retired Chicago blogger

  • Had bloggy brunch at SaraBeth's with lovely lady New York bloggers with salmon eggs Benedict

  • Acted like a total tourist, taking pictures of Times Square, Fifth Avenue and Rockefeller Center

  • Sat on a bench, watching a couple flirt on their first date and a man drink gin straight from the bottle

  • Dined at Perilla with Ashley (give it a grade of an A+++++) My pork loin, hanger steak with creamed spinach and mushrooms, risotto and apple bread pudding was just beyond words. But no Harold sighting (shoot!)

Tomorrow I head back to a flooded Chicago and I'm looking forward to it. But I guarantee I won't let another three years go by without a weekend out here. It was a lot of fun!

How was everyone else's weekend?

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Prepping my closet for spring!

Today was a great day in Chicago with almost spring-like temperatures. So if the weather is turning around, that means it's time to get my closet ready for spring.

I wear a lot of black, gray and white, but now that I'm seeing spring clothing and colors out on Michigan Avenue, my wallet is crying to go stimulate the economy. So far, I've resisted shopping for spring because I don't like buying spring clothes when it's still cold out, but that might be changing :)

A college friend used to get a complete, brand-new wardrobe every year. Literally every year. Goodwill loved her. But I usually try not to go too crazy with new clothes every season, because I tend to hold on to clothing until they wear out, or fade. I will pick up a few things every year though to keep the closet fresh.

So after some quality time online, here are a few things I have my eye on for spring, from my favorite stores: Gap, JCrew and Banana Republic.
Oh and I am a total liar about spending because while I was writing this, I went and spent some change at and on spring clothes. I am so weak. But I'm excited to wear all of my new stuff!

Has anyone else started shopping for spring clothes? What spring clothes are your favorites to pull out or what's on your "must buy" list?

Well the weekend is almost here and I am super excited about my trip to New York on Saturday. It will be a brief trip full of cupcakes, New York bloggers and food. I'm planning to drag people to Top Chef-owned restaurants too so if I see you, be ready!

That means I'll also be blogging from NYC this weekend and the key learnings should be entertaining!

Snuggie note: Thank you for all the funny comments on the Snuggie both here and on Facebook. Yes, it was a lot of fun to wear it but sadly I do not own the Snuggie myself, but I can see the appeal. Maybe next year for Christmas! And if a man would date me after seeing that picture, he's definitely date-worthy.

Online dating turnoff note: Several people also mentioned the whole "bait and switch" with photos in online profiles. I do 100 percent agree with you on this. That should have definitely been on the list. Thank you for reminding me!

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Online dating turnoffs

I'm still relatively new to online dating but I can share with you a few things I have seen that, well, help me decide whether or not I should close the match.

Now before you think I'm a bad person, I still read the person's profile to see if I can move past these things, but I can guarantee you, these things are a sign.

So here we go, a list of my online dating turnoffs:
  • Wearing a shirt that says "I like hot moms" in the profile picture
  • Talking openly about enjoying the "swinging" lifestyle
  • Multiple pictures of the guy with his shirt off (and the view isn't good)
  • Pictures of guys flexing in a mirror and/or weight lifting
  • Guys cuddling with their cats or multiple pictures of them with pets (I won't be able to compete with that)
  • Saying they don't have kids in one part of the profile but mentioning that actually do have kids later on
  • Commenting that they are "brutally honest with women" and that women "might not like what [they] have to say"
  • Saying they care about a women's physical fitness when they don't take care of themselves (I'm not a trophy, unless you're the Sugar Daddy)
  • Continuously asking a woman how she feels about "traditional gender roles"
  • Stressing that sex is the most important thing in a relationship. Isn't that an added bonus?
Yes, there are some characters out there. Again, some of these are more of a dealbreaker than others.

And speaking of a dealbreaker boys, I would not be upset if you closed a match with me based on the below picture. Yes, I'm rocking that blue Snuggie and it's very unflattering.

What would be your biggest dating turn offs when you meet a guy?

Monday, March 2, 2009

Vacation poll: I want to go to there

Readers, I need your help! I haven't been on vacation in a long time and I'm itching to put my tax return to good use by getting me out of Chicago for a few days.

But I have no idea where I should go. My only real preference is that it's not in the Midwest. I would also be possibly taking this trip this spring/early summer.

So I put together some ideas below of places I'm thinking of vacationing, let me know if what one you like best or write in your own suggestion.

As Liz Lemon would say, "I want to go to there," so help me decide where I should go.

Napa Valley, CA
I love wine and warm weather. I may not be a big drinker, but a lot of sampling isn't considered heavy drinking, is it?

My stepbrother who lives there says it's beautiful and it's been on my "list" of places to be for a while

New Orleans
Haven't spent a lot of time in the South, but I would love to see first-hand what the city looks like post-Katrina and sample some Cajun food

Never been there, but the desire to lay on a beach with a book is a huge plus

Does anyone else have trips coming up that they're looking forward to? I wanted to add Hawaii or Europe to the list, but right now, I need to save a little more before that can become a reality.

Or what was your favorite vacation, either with family, significant other or friends?

Sunday, March 1, 2009

Key Learnings, Restaurant Week part two and NYC bound!

Happy March 1st!! And, I'm officially hibernating until spring. We had lake effect snow in Chicago today and instead of half an inch, we're now supposed to get 1-5 inches. So while I'm hiding in my apartment (again,) let's enjoy some key learnings.

Key Learnings:
  • It's okay to eat cupcakes for breakfast...and lunch
  • Hearing someone say, "I love weighing myself!" makes me want to hurt them
  • A proper response to, "you look bad with glasses," is "you look ugly without them, but at least I have contacts"
  • Parents love me. I'm very non-threatening
  • It's healthy to have a few people be scared of you, as long as you don't use that for evil
  • I do not remember the layout of NYC as much as I used to
  • Restaurants that say your entire party be present before seating you, suck
  • Sushi + champagne = a fun Friday night
  • Shopping for spring clothes when it's winter-like temps outside is not very much fun
  • Always have a stockpile of witty comebacks when people ask you why you and your platonic manfriend don't date
  • The gym is not a babysitter. That's what malls are for
  • Butter makes cookies and any baked good better
Restaurant Week - Part Two:

Last week I posted my recap of my first Restaurant Week adventures, and now, even though it's been extended, below is my recap of the last two restaurants that I visited. Four restaurants in a week, that's more than enough for me!

Le Colonial - Grade: A -

Starter: Steamed Vietnamese ravioli with chicken, crimini mushrooms and rice noodles

Meal: Sauteed jumbo shrimp with asparagus with chili, garlic and spice

Dessert: Mango and raspberry sorbet

The restaurant had a lovely ambiance and decor. I'm not a huge fan of Vietnamese food but I would definitely go back...on a date :)

Coco Pazzo - Grade: B+

Starter: Calamari Fritti 

Meal: Spring chicken, grilled rapini, roasted potatoes

Dessert: Flourless chocolate cake with cappuccino ice cream

Overall, it was a great meal. I can see why Jennifer Aniston loves to go there when she's in Chicago. My only complaint was that our waitress did not know what she was doing, so asking for menu recommendations was like talking to a wall.

NYC here I come!

I am super excited because I'm going to NYC next weekend! I have a work event on Monday, but I'm flying out on Saturday to spend time in the Big Apple. I have no idea what I want to do, outside of taking pictures, hitting some cupcake haunts and, well, try not to look too much like a tourist. Oh, I do want to pick up some $5 faux pashmina's from street vendors though. Love them and it's a great, inexpensive way to add pop to an outfit.

Ashley, Maris and I are also working on putting together a little meet up so I can meet some awesome NYC bloggers. If you're free and you fall under this category, let me know!

How was everyone else's weekend? Seriously spring cannot get here fast enough.