Saturday, February 27, 2010

Family Time

I got to spend a fun-filled day with Grandma, Grandpa, Uncle Brian, Dad and Shaelin.

Shaelin's almost six and it's amazing how many things he knows! I was lucky enough to hang out with him on the day he learned to tie his shoes!

Friday, February 26, 2010

Old Friends

I was in Millie's wedding, she was in mine. Thank goodness our friendship didn't meet the same fate as the marriages.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Poca Tap

Back in the day, my grandparents owned a tavern on the south side of Milwaukee. My parents and I went there last night to see what it looked like 25 years after they sold it.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

The El

When I was waiting for the train, naturally, I gravitated towards the semi-enclosed shelter. Imagine my delight when I noticed this button.

Yes. Heat lamps. Overhead heat lamps.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Garfield Park Conservatory

I don't like cold weather. It's about 35 degrees here in Chicago and that's about as low as I want it to go. Yesterday, I found myself with an hour or so of spare time, so, at the suggestion of fellow Yelpers, I hopped on the El and went to the Garfield Park Conservatory. I was not disappointed.

This is the fern room. Who knew ferns could be so spectacular?

There's also a koi pond decorated with Chihuly blown-glass lily pads.

All in all, it was a wonderful way to escape a chilly, gray day. Oh, and did I mention, it's free?

Monday, February 22, 2010

Palmer House

I'm staying at the Palmer House in Chicago for a few days. The lobby is spectacular!

Friday, February 19, 2010

A Good Chardonnay

I'm not a big fan of chardonnays. In fact, most of the time, I find them undrinkable. But every now and then, I find a good one. Wente Vineyards offer such a wine. Highly recommended.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Peach Blossoms

Arthur poses in front of the peach blossoms I bought yesterday.

Living downtown, I have a greater awareness of Chinese New Year. These flowers symbolize growth, prosperity, long life and romance. According to tradition, "they're particularly popular with single people who decorate with them in hopes of finding love in the coming year."

Woo hoo!

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Men's Figure Skating

Is it just me or has men's figure skating evolved into a true art form?

I enjoyed watching all the men last night. Their routines weren't just about big jumps and tricks. They were about style and music and grace. Very impressive.

I think American Jeremy Abbott was my favorite. His flawed performance was heartbreaking.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010


My nephew in the snow fort that Dad and Grandpa built.

Who says snow can't be cute?

Monday, February 15, 2010

Foreign Cinema

Weekend work kept me from arriving on time, but it didn't keep me from enjoying Foreign Cinema's yummy and creative brunch entrees.

This was a tasty concoction of scrambled eggs, beans, tomatillo salsa and tortilla strips. Yum!

Friday, February 12, 2010


I've been a Survivor junkie from the very beginning - 10 years - hard to believe.

They're back with Heroes vs. Villains. Not sure about the concept, but I'll be watching - as always.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Bar Adagio

I've been passing by this place for a while now. Their "happy hour specials" sign was what got me in the door.

Beth was kind enough to provide a shoulder for me to cry on last night as I got bad news from the tax man and I had a pretty rough day at work.

The specials were great. We enjoyed $4 glasses of syrah, $7 shrimp cocktail (with five huge shrimp) and a $10 selection of three yummy dips served with flat bread.

The bartender was friendly, the ambiance was nice and it wasn't too crowded. I'll definitely be back.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Tet Festival

My new neighborhood abuts Little Vietnam, which is full of great shops and restaurants. On Sunday, the community celebrated Tet, the Vietnamese new year. I haven't seen so many Vietnamese people gathered in one place since ... well ... Vietnam.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

"Fried" Chicken

I'm not a big fan of chicken, but in honor of Billie Holiday's mom (she always made fried chicken for a houseful of guests), I made a batch to take to book group.

Of course, it wasn't really fried, but this recipe was pretty darned tasty.

Monday, February 8, 2010

Lady Sings the Blues

What I love most about book group is how it encourages me to read books I would never normally pick up.

"Lady Sings the Blues" was one such book. I knew nothing about Billie Holiday and this was a really great albeit sad introduction to an American icon.

Friday, February 5, 2010

Therapy Dog?

Everyone loves Ginger. I've noticed this even more in my new apartment because the neighborhood is full of old people, drug addicts and crazies and they all love Ginger. This got me thinking - therapy dog? We're going to our first training session on Sunday at the SPCA and we'll see how it goes. With any luck, Ginger will graduate, receive a special bandanna and get sent to nursing homes and hospitals for visits.

Thursday, February 4, 2010

To Shop or Not to Shop?

Yesterday, on my way home from work, I started thinking about what to make for dinner. I was planning to take Gin for a walk up the hill to the grocery store. No, I thought, I'll see what I've got in the fridge.

The result? A yummy concoction of mushrooms, tomatoes, tofu and spinach served over rice.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Owl Tree

Jaime and I stopped here for a drink last night after San Quentin and I was reminded how much I like this place. It's got a good, but not too hip atmosphere. There's always people there, but it's not too crowded and they have free Chex mix! What more could you want in a neighborhood bar?

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Kale and Roasted Vegetable Soup

Last night, I made this soup. Well, sort of. I didn't use beans and I didn't have squash or fresh tomatoes. Instead, I roasted carrots, onions, garlic and a potato. After roasting, I pureed the onions and garlic, which gave the soup a really good texture. For the broth, I used Trader Joe's fire-roasted canned tomatoes. That gave the soup an excellent kick. Highly recommended.

(Chef Ben: I need photo tips. I was forced to use someone else's because mine often look like crap.)

Monday, February 1, 2010

Gin's 15th Birthday

The birthday girl.

Arthur making a move for the smoked salmon sandwiches.

Some of Ginger's closest friends.

More party guests.

Dare I say, the cutest party guest.