The Purrfect Visit


My brother, John, was visiting Chicago this week–he lives in the Big Apple (I don’t think anyone really calls it that though).  He got a fancy new camera and took some truly stunning pictures of Burrito.



In case you were wondering, she’s settling into Chicago life quite nicely.  The birds have started coming to our balcony in droves, which I can’t really tell if it tortures or delights to Burrito.  Either way, she’s definitely entertained.



Happy Thursday and goodbye for meow!

5 Things Friday

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It’s here again..Friday!  It’s been several weeks since I’ve done a 5 Things Friday round-up and I’m feeling a little lazy, but also like I should write something.  So, here we go….


Rare Bird Preserves.  This jam is my jam (that was terrible, I’m sorry).  If you follow me on Instagram, I posted about this delicious jam earlier this week.  My mother-in-law and I went to the One of a Kind show last weekend at the Merchandise Mart and it was terrific, but I was surprised (pleasantly surprised!) to find that I enjoyed the food most of all!  I got the peach lavender jam and it’s about half gone and I’m kicking myself for not buying multiple.  Luckily, it’s 2017 and I can hop on over to their website and get it delivered straight to my doorstep.  I’ve eaten it every day this week for lunch–some toast, a healthy slather of ricotta, topped with the jam (see above picture).


Pinch Me Therapy Dough.  Another find from the One of a Kind show.  It’s basically adult play dough.  It has essential oils in it and is extremely soft to the touch.  Very soothing.  In idle moments where I might otherwise be fiddling on my phone, I try to pick up the Pinch Me dough instead.  Well worth $20 and it would make a terrific Mother’s Day gift.


Marnani Design.  Ok, last thing from the One of a Kind show.  This amazing print!  Little back story.  A year or so ago, a good friend of mine had a personalized watercolor done of she and her sister and I thought it was so cute.  She told me the artist was actually a girl she went to college with, used to work in the fashion industry, etc., etc.  I made a mental note to check out her website, but never got around to ordering anything.  Fast forward to last weekend and I saw a really colorful, fun-looking booth at the One of a Kind show.  I was immediately drawn to it and the girl manning the booth was wearing a name tag indicating that she was the artist and her name was Martha Napier.  It sounded so familiar and it took me about 0.2 seconds to put it together that it was the same artist who had done my friend’s painting.  Small world.  At any rate, I bought this really cute Central Park print, but I also loved her Montauk Beach print.  I’m very strongly considering commissioning a watercolor of Burrito and me…

Anti-Cruelty Society.  I know I’ve already used the Anti-Cruelty Society in a past 5 Things Friday, but I’m very excited to report that next week I will participate in phase one of my volunteer orientation!  I will definitely write a follow-up post and let you all know how it goes.  I went to the shelter last week and met some of the cats and they were so nice and so welcoming!

Target.  Ok, now I’m just phoning it in, but whatever, I want to give an extra special shout out to Target because, from time to time I get bored in the afternoon.  There are a lot awesome things about my Chicago schedule.  But, if I don’t have any writing/work to do and I’ve already been to yoga and it’s too early for wine time, I get a little bored.  The weather in Chicago is not yet conducive to exploring.  Enter Target.  My preferred location is the one in Bucktown, but the one on Division and Larrabee is much closer to home.  On slower afternoons, I always find a reason as to why I just haaaaave to go.  It goes a little something like this.

Me: David, I’m going to run to Target.  Do you need anything?

David: Yeah, get hand soap, I’m almost out.  Why are you going to Target?

Me: To get hand soap.

D: No, why were you originally going?

Me: Oh, um, paper towel. We need paper towel.

D: Why don’t you just go to the CVS that’s a block away?

Me: No, it’s cheaper at Target. No more questions.  I’ll be back in an hour.

9 hours and $72 later…

Have a great weekend and goodbye for meow.

 

 

 

Chocolate Avocado Pudding

img_2343I’m really proud of this one because I’ve been making variations of this recipe for months and I finally found one that is truly delicious.  The secret was adding a little bit (well, like, a half cup, actually) of brown sugar–without it, it’s just too bitter for me.  If you like really dark chocolate, maybe you can pass on the brown sugar.  I made this over the weekend when my dad came over for dinner (I made this super easy eggplant Parmesan recipe) and even he liked it, and he’s not really a dessert guy.

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  • 2 avocados
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1/3 cup coconut milk (I used an unsweetened vanilla flavor, which I recommend)
  • crushed pecans for topping (optional)

Blend it all together, let it chill in the refrigerator for a half hour or so, and serve!

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Goodbye for meow.

5 Things Friday

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5 Things Friday.  Hopefully you’re spending your weekend doing something much more exciting than packing.


5. Children Invade Dad’s TV Spot.  Children are, I’m told, a blessing.  This video of a guy talking about the South Korean President’s impeachment while his kids disrupt him is too good not to share.  I love how the daughter marches into the room, followed immediately by the baby who rolls on in.


4. Lululemon Align Pants. By far my favorite yoga pants–they have a very light compression so you feel ‘held in’ rather than ‘sucked in.’  Be careful with the lighter colors though, they do show sweat.  And that’s all I’ll say on the matter.  Athleta appears to have a similar style pant, the Salutation Pant, for $20 less that I’d like to give a try.


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3. Relationship Status: Cats.  My new errand running bag and I couldn’t be happier.  I walked around the apartment last night, wearing the bag, and telling David we were no longer married because my relationship status is CATS.  I’m delightful and not at all annoying to live with.


2. Rose’s Luxury.  For my final dinner out in DC, my friends and I are going to the Michelin starred restaurant, Rose’s Luxury.  They don’t take reservations so my dear, dear friends are going to wait in line and I’ll join them once David and I are done packing for the day.  Given that people pay $25-50 for a professional line-waiter at this restaurant, not having to wait in said line is a tremendous going away gift.


1. Girl and the Goat.  One more restaurant to round things out.  My friend and my co-worker got my a gift certificate to Girl and the Goat as a going away gift.  If you live in Chicago, you’ve definitely heard of this restaurant and, even if you don’t live in Chicago you may have heard of it.  I’ve never been and based on their Open Table availability, I’ll have to wait a little while.  Items like bleu cheese sweet potato pierogies and escargot ravioli have me pretty jazzed about trying this Chicago hot spot.

Goodbye for meow.

Top 5 Worst Parts of Moving

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Less than 7 days out and the apartment is in full-on tornado mode.  The posts for the next week or so will be pretty sporadic, my apologies.

Everyone with a pulse knows that moving is stressful and moving across the country increases that stress tenfold.  I give a tip of the hat to my husband, David, as he’s really done the lion’s share of the packing thus far.  We’re at a place now where 40% of the apartment is packed up and we still have 60% left to go.  While progress has been made, there’s still a ton to do–no matter how much we pack, more stuff inevitably materializes.

Here are some of the worst parts about moving…

5. Zero Counter Space.  This is most evident in the kitchen, where endless bric-a-brac is on every inch of the counter top.  Nowhere to make my breakfast!

4. Boxes.  Boxes everywhere, as far as the eye can see.  Big boxes, little boxes, medium-sized boxes.  Full boxes, half full boxes, not yet assembled boxes.  Jerry Seinfeld was right.

3. Laundry.  We move next Tuesday, I still need clean clothes to wear.  When do I do the last load of laundry?  When do I pack up my remaining clothes?  What do I do with dirty clothes after that?  How can I live like this?!?

2. Walking Through the Door.  Since we started boxing things up over the weekend, every time I come home I’m reminded “yeah, you’re moving and this is what your life looks like now.  Now and for the foreseeable future.”  I spent so much time making the apartment look nice and now I’ll have to start all over again.  Which, don’t get me wrong, I’m excited about, but it’s also daunting.

1. Trying to Explain Things to Burrito.  This is a challenge, because she is a cat.  She’ll have a long drive on Tuesday and I’ve tried telling her this, but it’s tough to know if she’s really hearing and understanding me.

Goodbye for meow.

5 Things Friday

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Happy Friday, everybody!   Working for the weekend, am I right?!?  At any rate, here’s some stuff…

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  1. Kind Bars.  Specifically, the maple glazed pecan and seat salt flavor.  I really have nothing more to say other than these are absolutely delicious and they only have 5 grams of sugar (which really isn’t that much, all things considered).  I eat one every day as a mid-afternoon snack.  I eat a lot of snacks.  It’s normal.

    PORTRAITS OF COURAGE A COMMANDER IN CHIEFS TRIBUTE TO AMERICAS WARRIORS, (HC)

  2. Portraits of Courage: A Commander in Chief’s Tribute to America’s Warriors by George W. Bush.  I really want this book. Look, I get that he might not be everyone’s most favorite president and that’s OK, but he was on Ellen and it was terrific and proceeds from the book go to helping post-9/11 veterans.  Can’t think of a better thing to spend $35 on.

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  3. My cat is weird.  David figured out that every time one of us turns on the stove, Burrito immediately jumps up to the top of the cupboards and it’s at least 15 degrees warmer up there.  She has her own personal steam room.  And, even better, she has cognition!  My cat is both weird and very, very smart.

  4. Relief. Such relief that my blog got a decent reception after I let my social media friends know that it existed.  Everyone was really nice and no trolls so far (I think you only get trolls once you actually have a readership…so, ya know, something to work toward).

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  5. Pilates.  As I’ve talked about (extensively), I love yoga.  But, I also love Pilates and I think the two really complement one another.  One a typical week, I do yoga 5-6 days a week and a Pilates Reformer class once a week.  Granted I’ve only been to one studio, but I think Fuse Pilates in DC is, hands down, the best.  Their Reformer classes  are awesome–it’s a great work out, but it’s not exhausting.  That said, you will definitely feel it the next day.

Goodbye for meow.

5 Things Friday

5-things-friday-1Happy Friday!  I really like when bloggers do ‘5 Things Friday,’ so here’s me giving it the old college try…

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  1. This purse.  I saw it at Banana Republic a few weeks ago–just before a particularly traumatic dentist appointment–and thought very seriously about treating myself.  Well, now it’s on sale.  So, I have to treat myself, right?  Right?!

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2. These shoes.  I’ve mentioned previously that I fancy myself a bit of a sneakerhead and I really like these.  My husband thinks they look like nurse’s shoes.  I should buy these and show him they’re just what the doctor ordered!  Hmph.

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3. These mala beads.  I ordered some mala beads (basically prayer/meditation beads that can be worn as a necklace or a bracelet) earlier this week.  Yet again, I fell prey to a sponsored Instagram post!  I know mala beds won’t make me be able to execute a perfect forearm stand or crazy inversion, but I can dream.

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4. Volunteering.  As I mentioned in a previous post, I expect to have a lot of free time in those first few weeks back in Chicago.  With that in mind, I’ve started researching places where I can volunteer with cats.  I wonder if I’ll have to change their litter…

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5. Early onset nostalgia.  I had my last meeting on Capitol Hill this morning.  Even though I’ve worked off the hill for the last two years, I still spend a lot of time there for meetings, briefings, etc.; so it was very bittersweet.  It was exciting and humbling to work on Capitol Hill and there’s a lot I’ll miss about Washington, DC–that view is surely near the top of the list.

Though, this view isn’t so bad either…

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Goodbye for meow.

Leaving That 9-5 Grind…For Now

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When my husband and I move to Chicago in a few weeks I won’t be working just yet.  I’m giving myself the freedom to get acclimated back in Chicago and maybe then see what the job market looks like for ‘ole Elaine.

Like a lot of people my age (freshly minted 30-year-old), I’ve been working since I graduated college eight years ago.  I worked on Capitol Hill for six years and have worked at a foreign policy think tank for the last two years.  Not that I’m some grizzled veteran of the workforce of anything.  Believe me, I know that’s not the case.  I’ve been really fortunate to work in an area that I enjoy and am equally as fortunate to be able to take a little breather for the time being.

This is probably true everywhere, but in Washington especially, so much of your identity is wrapped up in ‘what’ you do and, in many cases, ‘who’ you work for.  It’s not necessarily a bad thing, but it makes me nervous for my ‘identity,’ going forward.  I can imagine it now…

SCENE: A cocktail party at a swanky Chicago bar

Acquaintance: So, what do you do?

Me: Oh, um, I do a lot of yoga.

Acquaintance: Oh, that sounds lovely.

Me [sensing judgement, where there is none]: I JUST MOVED HERE, OK?!? MOVING IS STRESSFUL AND YOGA HELPS ME RELAX AND I ALSO HAVE A CAT THAT I TAKE CARE OF AND SHE DEPENDS ON ME AND THAT’S A FULL TIME JOB.  Sort of.  I mean, not really.  Anyway, nice talking to you.  Better get home to my cat.

That was fun.  Let’s dig a little deeper now.  I’m equal parts overjoyed and petrified.  Let’s start with overjoyed:

  • I’ll be closer to my family and my in-laws.
  • Chicago is an amazing city!
  • I’m ready for something new, but still familiar (I grew up in Chicago, but haven’t lived there since I was 18)–I have lots to rediscover!  Which brings me to my last point…
  • Without a full-time job, I’ll have loads of time and freedom to rediscover, explore and, get settled.  For the first time in eight years, my time is fully mine and this is a luxury I surely won’t take for granted!

Ok, now onto petrified:

  • What will I do with my time?!?!  Exploring and rediscovering will be fun for about three days and then I’ll be bored to tears!
  • What if I want to start working full-time again, but no one will hire me?!?
  • What even are the part-time jobs out there?!  People tout the benefits of part-time work and a flexible schedule, but what does that really mean?!
  • What if I get super lazy and unmotivated and just hang out with Burrito all day?!

So, yeah, between the made up conversations with well-meaning acquaintances and the constant pro/con list, it’s an interesting time to be in my head.  I know everything will get figured out and it might take some time and some maneuvering.  If anyone has gone through a similar transition, please share your insights!

Goodbye for meow.

Meet Burrito.

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There she is!  That’s Burrito.  My friend.  My mentor.  My roommate.  First things first, I love all cats of all kinds, shapes, and sizes (even cats that might not be that fond of me).  I like dogs too, but definitely prefer cats.  I like that cats are temperamental and run hot and cold from minute to minute.  They make you work for their affection, which makes it all the more meaningful.

My love of cats was inherited from my mother, also a lifelong lover of cats.  We had a burmese named Dooley until I was 18 (R.I.P., little meatloaf) and she got Virgil (another burmese) a few months after Dooley’s passing in 2005.  You’re probably wondering how Burrito came into my life.

“Such a beautiful specimen must have cost tens of thousands of dollars!  How could you afford her?!?,” you’re thinking.

Burrito found me!  She was homeless in 2011 when she followed me home.  I always kept cat food in my apartment (there were some other cats in the neighborhood I would feed occasionally–I know that sounds weird.  And, frankly, it is.), so I invited Burrito upstairs for a little nosh.  She ate a whole can of wet food in about 14 seconds. Because she was such a friendly little thing, I assumed she had a home, so we parted ways.  But sure enough, about two weeks later we were reunited for good and we’ve been roommates every since.

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In 2015, David and I got married and we moved in with him.  She definitely prefers him to me, but that’s ok, she needed a strong male influence in her life and I’m glad he can provide that for her.

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In terms of temperament, she’s very quizzical, friendly, and, like most cats, aloof.  As much as Burrito is my favorite thing in the world, I promise to also write about other things.  Just know, it’ll be a pretty feline-heavy blog.

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Goodbye for meow.

 

Yoga Two a Day

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Today I did something pretty out of the ordinary.  I went to two–count ’em–two yoga classes in one day!  I did my normal yoga class in the morning and then tacked on a yin yoga class afterward.  I thought it might help with some knee pain I’ve been having.  I’m heavy on power yoga/any yoga that is more physically demanding, so it was nice to try something a little slower.  I don’t think it helped my knee pain, but there’s an ice pack in the freezer with my name on it that has been helping ease the discomfort.

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I started doing yoga about two and a half years ago and absolutely fell in love.  Seriously, I pretty much plan my entire week around when I can make it to yoga and, if I have to miss a class, I do my best to find a way to sneak in another class.  I’ve toyed with the idea of doing yoga teacher training, but a few things have held me back:

  • Working full-time
  • I like to keep my weekends to myself (not that I do super fabulous or interesting things, but I just like my time to be my own)
  • Most importantly, the very real fear that doing yoga teacher training would make yoga seem like a chore instead of a hobby

Moving to Chicago might provide the perfect opportunity to give it a go.  We’ll see.  I’d honestly appreciate any insights from other yogis out there who have done yoga teacher training.

And, to close things out–here’s an outtake of Burrito photobombing one of my yoga pictures.  Happy Sunday!

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Burrito sniffing around my yoga books

 

Goodbye for Meow.