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.

 

 

 

Patty O’Furniture


It’s not much but that’s my little patio.  The weather is finally starting to get nicer–at least on a more consistent basis.  I love having that little (teeny tiny) bit of space outside, but really didn’t think I’d use it; that is, until David suggested getting some chairs to put out there.  Target had an excellent array of patio furniture and this ‘lil set was on sale–$80 for the lot of it!  Chairs here and side table here.


Three days later and I’m obsessed with it. Some days, if I’m working from home, I don’t actually get outside until I leave for lunchtime yoga, so having a cup of ginger tea (I am not a coffee drinker) and reading the news (or, ya know, lifestyle blogs) for 10-15 minutes is soooo nice.  Then, before dinner, swap the tea for for wine and the news for some David Sedaris essays, and it’s the same scene.

I never thought much about outdoor space, but now I’m really jealous of anyone (particularly anyone who lives in a city) with a yard or, better yet, a roof deck of their very own!

Also, after weeks of putting birdseed on the patio–a bird finally landed on it yesterday!  He enjoyed a little snack….until Burrito noticed and pounced thus causing the bird to flee.  She went nuts and has an even keener interest in watching the patio like, well, a hawk.

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I think I’ll eat my lunch on the patio today.  Happy Friday!


Goodbye for meow.

Girl and the Goat


I think most Chicagoans probably went to Girl and the Goat when it opened seven years ago, but I was a Washingtonian at the time, so I only had the pleasure of visiting for the first time last week.  And it was, wow.

Two dear friends of mine gifted me a gift certificate to Girl and the Goat before I left DC and I tried and tried to get a reservation, but they seemed to be fully booked in perpetuity.  Last Thursday, on a whim, I decided to try for a Friday night (fat chance, or so I thought)–lo and behold, there was a lone reservation for 5:15pm.  Now, this is a little earlier than I like to eat, but I have a 10pm bedtime, so I jumped on it.  (The waitress said that’s how a lot of folks end up getting a reservation–so, if you’re in town or just want a last minute reservation–try OpenTable a day or two ahead of time, you may get lucky!)


The restaurant is on Randolph Street in the West Loop (when I was growing up there was very little in the West Loop, now it’s the epicenter of Chicago’s trendiest restaurants).  David and I were seated at the chef’s table, so we had a view right into the kitchen (it was a little toasty, but well worth it) and to see delicious dishes as they were prepared.


We ordered the goat carpaccio, roasted beets, oysters, grilled cuttlefish, and–the real show stopper–the sauteed green beans with cashews (in a fish sauce vinaigrette that was both amazing and indescribable).

Obviously, I highly recommend this restaurant.  Just what the Internet needed, another review of Girl and the Goat.

Goodbye for meow.

 

How Do I Spend My Days in Chicago?


A question I get a lot is, “So what are you up to in Chicago?” (Actually, not a lot of people ask me that–this readership is pretty minuscule at this point, but I’m going to answer anyway.)  Tomorrow marks four weeks since my husband, David, and I moved to Chicago.  These last two weeks or so, I’ve started to feel settled and gotten into a pretty good routine.  I’m definitely not as bored as I thought I would be, at least not yet.  I started doing some freelance writing, which I’ve really been enjoying, and really helps to give my days some shape, but also a lot of flexibility.
Come along with me and I’ll take you on a tour of a typical day…

7:30-8am–Wake up, Elaine!  This may sound late to a lot of you, but honestly, it’s about the same time I woke up when we lived in DC.  Except now I’m not feeling rushed to get ready and get out the door.

8-9am-Get ready for the day, watch Good Morning America (not ashamed, it’s my favorite morning show and I love it), and eat breakfast

9-9:30am-Watch the start of Live with Kelly while checking e-mail and doing some ,light online shopping (I bought these mules the other day because the ones I really wanted from Nordstrom were back ordered until May and the Go Jane ones were a third of the price and should be here by Thursday!)

9:30-noon-Buckle in for work time!  Research, writing, e-mailing with the client I’ve been freelancing for.

Noon-1:30pm–YOGA.  My favorite part of the day.  I’ve been mainly going to The Lab in the West Loop and occasionally Yogaview in Bucktown.  I also found a really terrific Pilates studio in River North called Amplified Pilates.

2-4pm–I go to our health club, get a late lunch or post-yoga smoothie and work for a few more hours.

4-6pm–Either run errands or treat myself to a massage, manicure, etc. (there’s a massage therapy school a few blocks from our apartment and student massages are $40 for a 60-minute massage!)

6-7pm–Make dinner (or, ya know, pick up dinner from a restaurant)

7-10pm–Wind down, watch tv, read, etc.

10pm–Lights out!  I’ve been trying to be better about getting to bed earlier.  The central time zone means all of my favorite shows are on an hour earlier, so I have no excuse to stay up until 11-11:30.

So, there you have it.  A day in my Chicago life, 4 weeks in.  Writing it out like that kind of makes it sound boring, but I really, really like it.

Goodbye for meow.

Spring Florals

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It’s been so long since I’ve gotten really dressed up.  I so wanted to put on a nice dress and make my husband take a few pictures of me in the park near our apartment, but it’s raining (again) in Chicago today.  It’s been raining a lot here.  I usually don’t mind rain, but it’s starting to make me feel a little stir crazy.  So, here are some really cute spring-y floral dresses–and they’re all under $200!
Spring Florals

Happy hump day!

Goodbye for meow.


White cocktail dress
$110 – littleblackdress.co.uk

Monsoon cut out dress
monsoon.co.uk

Topshop white prom dress
$94 – topshop.com

Milly short dress
theoutnet.com

Ted baker dress
$250 – tedbaker.com

Hobbs pink dress
$185 – johnlewis.com

Chi Chi mini dress
dorothyperkins.com

Battle of the Yoga Pants

On the same day the price of Lululemon’s shares took a precipitous tumble, I am writing a post comparing their Align Pant with Athleta’s Salutation Pant.  First things first, I love both of these pants and rarely wear anything else to yoga.  If it’s a hot yoga class, I’m partial to Lululemon’s Wunder Under Shorts or the discontinued Liberty Shorts.

Let’s get to it–

Lululemon’s Align pant definitely seem like they would be see-through, but I tried them on in-store and I bent and stretch every which way and was all clear.  I don’t like super compression tights, so these are terrific.  They’re a 7/8 length, which is great because Lululemon pants are often quite long on me (I’m 5’3..and a half).  The ankle does stretch out a bit after a wash or two (I wash all of my yoga pants inside out and generally by themselves–I only dry them for 15-20 minutes and let them air dry the rest of the way).  I also have the Align crops (19″ long) and there’s no problem with stretching out on those.  I love that these are seamless–it really feels like you’re wearing nothing at all.  One item to note, certain lighter colors show sweat very easily.  I returned the dark red color because of this problem.  The navy and black are fine–I’d steer clear of anything lighter though.  Size-wise, these run a little bigger than Lululemons other pants.

Pros: Soft, non-compression fabric.  7/8 length. Seamless.

Cons: Ankle stretched out after a few wears/washes. Light colors show sweat quite easily.

Athleta’s Salutation pant is similar to the Align pant.  They’re a little tighter (these are my first pair of Athleta pants, so I don’t know how the others compare, but I got an XS) and the fabric, while very similar, isn’t identical. These are less expensive (by about $20) than the Align pant.  These do have seams, which I don’t love but isn’t a deal breaker by any means.  These are also 7/8 length and the ankles are intact after the first wash.  (I just bought these a few days ago, so I’ve only washed them once.)

Pros: 7/8 length. Price.  Sleek fabric.

Cons: Little too much like compression tights.  Seams.

Overall, I really like both, but give my official endorsement to Lululemon’s Align pants.  Hopefully my endorsement takes them out of the red after today’s disappointing sales forecast.

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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Workin’ for the weekend!  Am I right?!  Well, I didn’t do a lot of ‘work’ this week per se, but I’m still ready for the weekend.  A few items from my first full week back in Chicago:


Library Card.  I got my library card at the historic Harold Washington Library this morning!  I used my library card in DC all the time and I was inordinately happy to get my card this morning.  I really don’t like reading books (or magazines for that matter) on my iPad–it strains my eyes (I’ll be 85 and a half in July, thanks for asking!).  I also don’t really like having books around after I’ve read them, they take up a lot of space.  Thus, the library is a very happy place for me.  Also, in case you’re wondering, I’ve never witnessed anyone doing anything indecent at the public computer terminals.  I’ve seen folks napping or talking loudly to themselves, but nothing more disruptive than that.



The DMV.  I also got my Illinois Driver’s License.  That was a much less exciting experience, but it meant that I was able to get my Chicago library card so, ya know, you take the good with the bad.


Sweetgreen.  In DC, I ate a lot of Sweetgreen.  I visited the Sweetgreen in River North this week and the quality of the end product and consistency of dressing allocation left a lot to be desired.  First, the bread was totally different–it tasted fine, but it was very thin. In DC, they have a very delicious, hearty buckwheat bread.  In Chicago, I don’t even know what the bread is, but it isn’t good.  Second, the employees (salad artists?) have a very different interpretation of light, medium, or heavy dressing than I am accustomed to.  Even so, the salads are still delicious, so I’ll be back.  I’ll always be back.


The El. So, I’ve only ridden the el (Chicago’s subway system, its called the el because most of the stations are above ground and the tracks are elevated–hence, the el) a few times this week and I wish I could say I vastly preferred it to the DC metro, I can’t.  I do like that it’s above ground so I don’t feel like a mole person journeying five stories down to the center of the earth to board it.  However, I don’t like that the stations don’t have escalators (this makes me sound lazy and I’m ok with that).  It runs about as frequently as the metro. That is, I waited 12 minutes for the el at Randolph and Wabash in the middle of the day.



Massage.  I got my first massage in over a month this afternoon and, oh boy, was it awesome!  I’m a big advocate for people getting massages–I know they’re not for everybody, but I love them.  I had a 40% coupon from the health club that David and I joined and it only took me two days to use it.  It’s reasonably priced at $75 for an hour-long massage, but even at that price I can’t make it a weekly habit.


Have a terrific weekend!  Goodbye for meow.

When Did Busyness Become a Crutch?


“How’ve you been?”

“Good!  Really busy, but good!”

Honestly, that used to be my default answer pretty much any time someone asked how I was doing—even if I wasn’t all that busy.  Last week, I moved from Washington, DC to my hometown of Chicago.  In DC, I worked full-time, maintained a fairly active social life, and always made time for yoga.  I wasn’t exactly drowning in extracurricular activities, but I felt reasonably busy and was always tired at the end of the day.  I know women who work full time, have children, are active in Junior League (or other volunteer-based organizations), and run marathons.  Busy is, I suppose, in the eye of the beholder, but those women certainly seemed a whole lot busier than me—yet, I always claimed to be a busy little bee.  I did so partly out of a habit—after all, it’s boring to just answer “oh, fine” when someone asks how you’re doing—and partly because that’s what most women seem to say.

Well, no more.  Not after reading this Inc.com piece on busyness being the new status symbol.  The author of the piece draws the phenomenon back to the old adage “time is money.”  So, it stands to reason, that if you’re very busy, your time must also be very valuable (i.e., valuable in terms of dollars and cents).  The author goes on to suggest that this dynamic is beginning to shift as employers put a renewed emphasis on work quality—especially as more and more people take advantage of telecommuting and flexible work hours.  After all, just because you’re sitting at your desk doesn’t mean you’re fully immersed in official business.  I can’t be the only one who occasionally gchats with their friends during the work day…right?

Now that I’m really thinking about it, I was way busier in college than I am now/was in DC.  I was involved in my sorority and in Student Senate all four years (it should come as no surprise that I landed in DC for 8 years after graduation).  I had class during the day and then meetings until 8 or 9 at night and then would head out to, um, fraternize with friends—I’d wake up the next morning, fresh as a daisy, and do it all over again.

I guess this is all to say that, when people tell me how busy they are, I’m going to take it when a grain of salt.  Since I’m not working full time right now, I have very little business saying it myself.  Also, I’ll get more creative with my response to “How are you?”—“I’m fulfilled”, “I’m cranky”, “I’m hungry”, “I’m content,” etc.

Goodbye for meow.