The Week That Was: May 30, 2014

Party hat

The absence of last week’s “The Week That Was” was due to my eating, sleeping and breathing everything first birthday — including the homemade party hat above (who needs Etsy?!). We hosted about 25 friends and family last Saturday and, as is par for the course, I got a little carried away with the menu and decorations. I was up late pretty much every night last week, doing things like cutting out paper birds and positioning tree branches just so in a glass vase. By time it was all said and done, I was happy with the result, but man was it time-consuming. I had to chuckle when KP suggested I do this for a living. No thanks! Jury’s still out on whether Nora will have a second birthday party like the first!

Now all of our guests have gone home and I’ve gone back to not eating birthday cake for breakfast. Boo! And we focus on Nora getting over this nasty cold she picked up (not sure who brought that unwanted first birthday gift…) and our trip to NYC in a few weeks. Send any ideas for baby-friendly Big Apple my way, please.

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The world lost an amazing woman with the passing of Maya Angelou on Wednesday. Maybe time to pull out I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings and give it another read. I love these quotes of hers, especially numbers 3, 5, 6 and 9.

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Daisy only gets a bandana when she’s professionally groomed (read: not often). But I love these adorable summery bandana collars for the pooch.

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The toothbrush gets its first redesign in 60 years. Maybe if mine looked like this KP wouldn’t accidentally mistake it for his and use it (again)…

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I try to keep things light and fun here, for the most part, but I just can’t get over this.

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Obsessed with this diddy at the moment.

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Beautiful photos of Delhi. “Everyday life is beautiful to me here, even as it is also hard, tragic and ruthlessly unfair.” Couldn’t have said it better myself.

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Here are some alternatives to wildly popular Airbnb. Cancelon sounds intriguing…

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Happy weekend!

Summer Bucket List

Chicago summer
Chicago summer

It felt like it would never come, but it’s finally on the horizon. Summer is only a month away! Granted, that doesn’t necessarily guarantee consistently warm weather here in Chicago, but I’ll take what I can get. And we’ve already had our air-conditioner running once this year, so I’ll chalk that up as a win.

I put together my summer bucket list for those days I’m scratching my head wondering how to fill mine and Nora’s day. And while I most look forward to everything Chicago has to offer in the summertime, I also look forward to a few road trips, including one to the East Coast which will for sure be an adventure with Nora in tow.

Summer Bucket List

A: Adler Planetarium, Air & Water Show

B: Beaches, blow bubbles (seriously the best bubbles), BBQ

C: Cubs game, celebrate our fourth anniversary in NYC

D: Day drinking, dining al fresco

E: Eat my way through the summer festivals, East Coast road trip

F: Foster Avenue Beach, fireworks, finger-painting, Father’s Day

G: Gene’s Sausage Shop, Greek Fest

H: Hamlin Park pool

I: Ice-cream

J: J Parker rooftop, July 4th

K: Kite flying

L: Lincoln Park Zoo, Low-Line Market, Lake Ozark trip

M: Manning’s, Monkey’s Paw patio

N: New York City trip, Navy Pier fireworks

O: Osaka Garden

P: peach cobbler, Portillo’s cake shake, picnic, Peju Provence

Q: quiet reading time

R: running outside, road trips, Ravinia

S: Shedd Aquarium, Scooter’s Frozen Custard, sparklers, sunscreen

T: take walks, throw a frisbee

U: unplug

V: vacations

W: Wrightwood Park, Washington D.C. trip, Willis Tower (at night!)

X: eXplore the city

Y: yodel (seriously, Y is hard!)

Z: Zoo

What’s on your summer bucket list?

The Week That Was: May 16, 2014

Monkey's Paw Second Anniversary Dinner
Monkey’s Paw Second Anniversary Dinner

I made up for our canceled Napa trip with a long weekend filled with incredible food and plenty of libations — beginning last Thursday evening. Our favorite neighborhood restaurant, Monkey’s Paw, celebrated its second anniversary with a five course chef’s tasting dinner that night. While everything was incredible, my favorite dish was black pepper spätzle, house-made goat ricotta, roasted zucchini, zucchini blossom, house-made chorizo. Think of it as mac and cheese for adults.

The remainder of the weekend went on to include dinner at Cicchetti, brunch at Fork, sushi from Ringo, brunch at Monkey’s Paw and multiple (!) trips to Scooter’s. What’s Mother’s Day weekend without a little over-indulgence? Speaking of my new favorite day of the year, KP and Nora gave me such a lovely Mother’s Day and so did Mother Nature. The weather here in Chicago was beautiful — like summer!

After all of last weekend’s running around, I’m happy to have a relatively low-key weekend on tap. I’ll have plenty to keep me busy, though, with final prep for Nora’s birthday party next weekend. Whatever you have on tap for the weekend, enjoy.

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Have you seen the adorable pic of the “mono mono” twin girls holding hands? Presh.

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Loving this new Ray LaMontagne diddy.

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How cool are these old school travel posters?

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Once I became a parent, I seemed to lose a few friends along the way. Inevitable, I suppose. And this explains why.

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I do often forget I’m being sarcastic!

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We try to buy a small piece of artwork for our walls whenever we travel. Here are some other good tips on decorating with souvenirs from Nate Berkus.

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Happy weekend!

 

 

Pic of the Week: Champaign, Illinois

Illinois beats Michigan | October 31, 2009
Illinois beats Michigan
October 31, 2009

Yesterday marked the 14-year anniversary of my college graduation. There, I just dated myself. Sometimes it feels like just yesterday that I was rushing across the quad at the University of Illinois, and other times it feels like more than 14 years — like when we venture down to Chambana for a football or basketball game and few things look the same. Aww, memories.

The Week That Was: May 9, 2014

This week that title above should read, “The Week That Was: Shitty.” Have you ever had to cancel a vacation? Scratch that. Have you ever had to cancel a vacation that you really needed? Two words for you: it sucks.

My friends, we had to cancel our much-anticipated trip to Napa this week! You see, dear KP brought a nasty stomach virus home with him from NYC and it hit our household hard. Funny thing is, when he was in NYC for a conference early last week, he called and told me he got such terrible food poisoning that he wasn’t even going to go to the conference. Sounded awful. Vomiting, diarrhea, the whole nine yards. He was generally well when he got home on Wednesday morning, although still felt a bit run down and sluggish. Fast forward to Friday morning. Nora greeted us with a massive blowout diaper and I lost count of the number of wardrobe changes she had that day. I also saw projectile vomit for the first time ever (don’t need to see that again). On Saturday, my mom — who was here to babysit Nora while we went to Napa — got it, and by the middle of Saturday night, I was praying to the porcelain god.

Stupid NYC and its stupid germs.

Needless to say, I’m really looking forward a night out with my girlfriends tonight. I may not be in Napa, but the wine will be flowing!

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Though I was super bummed to not be sipping Provence at Peju this week, I can’t complain about the gorgeous weather we’ve had here in Chicago. Spring. Is. Here. And now I look forward to brunch al fresco.

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We learned the hard way of some changes American Airlines made to their frequent flier program. The gist? Gold status means nothing anymore (not that it meant much to begin with). Here’s a breakdown of what the changes mean for you.

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Champagne via drone? Sign me up!

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What’s the best day to book airfare? Of course there isn’t a simple answer, but some good tips here.

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Once our house was nursed back to health this week, we taste-tested this punch I’m serving at Nora’s first birthday in a few weeks. Oh-so refreshing!

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I’ll celebrate my first Mother’s Day on Sunday. If you’re still looking for inspiration for your mom, here are some sweet ideas.

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Eggs. They’re not just for Mother’s Day.

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Happy weekend! And happy Mother’s Day to all the mommies.

Favorite Napa Moments

Napa, Take Two

I’m thinking about all things Napa these days. We leave for our trip on Monday and while it’ll be a much quicker trip than last time we were there — with less free time for KP (poor working stiff) — I think it’s just the right amount of time. It’s our first trip without Nora and while she’ll be in Grammie’s good hands, I don’t know that I’m comfortable being away from her more than two nights just yet!

KP and I first went to Napa together in August 2011 for our first wedding anniversary. We spent a few days in San Francisco and then drove up to Sonoma County to stop at a few wineries in Healdsburg before heading to Napa. We stayed at The Carneros Inn which just so happens to be where we’re staying this time around, and it’s just adorable. I was immediately enamored with wine country after that one trip.

Here are a few of my favorite memories of my first trip to Napa.

1. Gary Farrell Vineyards & Winery

View from the patio at Gary Farrell Vineyards & Winery
View from the patio at Gary Farrell Vineyards & Winery

Gary Farrell was our second stop (Moshin was first). Some friends recommended it and it was so worth the stop. Would you just look at that view? Pinot noir in hand, looking out at this — doesn’t get much better.

2. Francis Ford Coppola Winery

Francis Ford Coppola Winery
Francis Ford Coppola Winery

One of the few wineries that we visited that included a tour was Francis Ford Coppola. On the one hand, I would just like to taste the wine, please. On the other hand, the grounds are just beautiful and I never imagined how big the oak barrels are.

3. The Carneros Inn

The Carneros Inn
The Carneros Inn

The Carneros Inn is one of my favorite places that I’ve ever stayed. It isn’t a hotel; the property consists of cottages, suites (adjoining cottages) and homes. As someone who hates hearing neighbors in the hotel room next door, I love this setup! It was really like our own home away from home. Behind that little red door of our cottage was a big bed with a sumptuous white, fluffy duvet and an amazing bathroom complete with heated floors. I will most definitely be making a return visit to the spa.

4. Schramsberg Vineyards

Schramsberg caves
Schramsberg caves

Schramsberg is known for their bubbles. Enough said? This was my favorite tour and tasting. The tour was actually really interesting and informative, which I guess is a no-brainer considering the caves (I think two-plus miles of them) are over 125 years old — plenty of history. And a bit of trivia for you: Schramsberg sparkling wines have been served at official State functions by every U.S. President since Nixon (Nixon is how Schramsberg got its “in”).

5. Joseph Phelps Vineyards

Joseph Phelps Vineyards
Joseph Phelps Vineyards

Joseph Phelps was one of the larger vineyards we visited, with a great big tasting room and a back patio that overlooked the vines.

6. Frog’s Leap

Frog's Leap
Frog’s Leap

Frog’s Leap was the last winery we visited in Napa. They offer seated tastings complete with an amuse bouche plate on the deck of the Vineyard House. I could’ve sat and sipped on that deck all afternoon. You’re also free to explore the vineyard, gardens and farm at your leisure.

7. Cake!

Anniversary cake
Anniversary cake

Since we were in Napa to celebrate our first anniversary, I conspired with the concierge to have a cake in our room upon our arrival. It was in one of the flavors of our wedding cake — lemon — which happens to be one of KP’s favorites. We nibbled on this delicious cake over the course of our stay.

The Week That Was: May 2, 2014

This: “May could see coldest start in 75 years.” This is not a headline I want to read after the winter we’ve had here in Chicago. Sadly, it’s accurate. It’s been… brisk… the last few days. I should know better, though. We brought Nora home from the hospital on May 25th last year, and it was frigid, gray and dreary. Let’s just hope the weather shapes up quicker this year and we’re not all wearing winter coats on her first birthday.

This weather is messing with my plans to wear a sleeveless dress to the wedding we’re going to tomorrow afternoon. Feels wrong just writing that in early May. Luckily I have a plan B (and C, and D and…). And luckily it’s not an outside wedding! I’m really looking forward to seeing two of our dear friends get married. It’s a relationship that KP and I have witnessed from the very beginning — when they came to our Christmas party together almost five years ago and the guys took bets on how long they’d be together. Voila, here they are!

Aside from the wedding, I need to do some packing since we leave for Napa bright and early Monday morning. Look forward to sharing the details of that trip next week. Til then, have a lovely weekend.

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WHAT? That was literally my reaction — out loud — when I read this recipe. These will be on our grill (as soon as it’s warm enough to use it…).

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Excellent tips on must-have photo apps for your smartphone. Summer vacation time is just around the corner.

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The great free wi-fi debate… I’m in the, “To charge for WiFi is just terrible. It’s like charging for water…” camp.

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I eat this stuff up. Pun intended.

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Just because. It’s Friday. And I love School of Rock.

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So looking forward to this wedding!

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Happy weekend!