The Week That Was: August 29, 2014

Low Line Farmers Market

Here we are — the unofficial last weekend of summer. I’m glad it’s coming to an end. Not to be melodramatic, but losing Daisy and having our basement flood twice was enough for us to chalk this up to: not the best summer ever.

We’re bidding adieu to summertime — and hopefully all the crap that came with it — with a BBQ with friends on Sunday. KP will grill these delicious cabernet burgers and I’ll whip up some sides and a peach cobbler (a la mode!) with the luscious peaches we got at last night’s farmers market.

Whatever you’ve got on tap for the weekend, enjoy…

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I’m back to trying to make a new recipe every week. Loving this tuna potato salad I tried yesterday. Added a squirt of yellow mustard and dash of dill to my version. Poured a glass of rosé and voila — dinner!

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Travel, but don’t be a tourist.

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My favorite recent read was Joyce Maynard’s Labor Day. I loved nearly everything about this book, and I had no idea it was also a movie that apparently came out earlier this year. If you started reading today, you could probably finish by Labor Day; it’s that good.

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Check out these apps for your next road trip. I’ve already raved about iExit and still love it, despite it’s clunkiness, at times.

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I admit it. I should clean up my language, especially with Nora repeating everything these days. I’m bringing “fiddlesticks” back.

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While some of these checklists for a well-stocked home are genius, I think the only person who lives in a home this well-stocked is Martha Stewart.

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Happy Labor Day weekend!

Swearing off Vacations

Groundhog day

Image source

Remember when we returned from our lake house vacation last month to find that our basement sustained a shit ton (pun intended) of damage from a sewer backup? It must be groundhog day, because the same thing happened to us at the tail end of our East Coast road trip.

Last Friday morning I was up bright and early — 5 a.m. EST. I’d been up a good chunk of the night with what I would assume were contraction-like pains (I have no idea what my contractions felt like because my dear anesthesiologist got me good with the epidural). Not pregnant and thus knowing the pain wasn’t actually contractions, I simply curled up in the fetal position and pondered, did I eat something bad at Gordon Ramsay’s Maze that caused this? Or was it Nobu? Or was it all the booze? What if I have to stop drinking? And my mind wandered from there.

As I’m wanton to do, I clicked on my bedside buddy, my beloved iPhone, and pulled up the Chicago Tribune to see how many people had been killed the night before. The headline was something about torrential rain and major freeways and CTA lines being shut down. Panic. For a brief second I thought, oh god oh god oh god what if we return home to a basement full of mess again? But I decided I was being ridiculous and forced myself to go to sleep.

Fast forward to two hours later when both KP and I were officially up for the day and I received a text from our neighbor, asking me to call her. I knew. Reading her text, I knew it was bad news bears. She told me that they only got a little water in their bathtub and offered to take a look at our place. Of course we got more than a little water in our bathtub but we were optimistic that it wasn’t too bad, since the pictures she sent didn’t look remotely as bad as the first time around.

Wishful thinking.

So here we are again. As I type, the remediation company’s monster fans whir in the basement, where our brand new carpet has been ripped up and parts of our walls cut out. Oh, and our new bathroom vanity, too. Though, I didn’t love it so I’m not too sad about that. I am, however, sad that all the work that was just finished has to be done all over again. Sadder, still, that we will likely have to wait some time to have it done as we’re waiting for some other work — which is outside of our control — to be completed first. Gotta love condo associations… And as we all know, patience is not my strongest virtue. I just hope all I want for Christmas isn’t a new basement.

What are the odds of this happening twice while we were on vacation? It’s enough to scare me out of going on another one for a long, long time.

The Week That Was: August 22, 2014

Honeymoon in St. Thomas, USVI | 2010
Honeymoon in St. Thomas, USVI
2010

Yesterday marked our fourth wedding anniversary. While the glimmering sea in St. Thomas looks mighty inviting, we celebrated in the city this time around — New York City, to be exact. More on that soon.

Earlier in this trip, we were visiting with our friends Molly and Kevin, who were married exactly two weeks before we were (2010 was the year of weddings for our friends, it seems). Molly made the comment that, even though it’s four years, which isn’t a traditional milestone, it still felt like some sort of milestone. I tend to agree. Maybe because our first four years were packed with so much activity it feels time to breathe a sigh of relief? KP says it’s because we spent nearly half of our marriage being pregnant and having a baby, which is probably also true.

I’m sad that our week of leisure is almost over. Tomorrow morning we’ll pack up the car and head home. As much as I love Chicago, it’s been so nice to be someplace without all the noise, chaos and crime. But all good things must come to an end, right?

Here’s hoping your weekend is full of lots of good things, at least until Sunday, anyway.

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Finally, I will understand my niece’s and nephew’s Tweets.

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Clearly I’m not the only one who finds all of the silly ice bucket challenge videos on Facebook to be obnoxious. So wasteful!

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KP and I saw “The Hundred-Foot Journey” the other night. If you haven’t seen it, go! I think I had a perma-smile on my face almost the entire length of the movie.

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Choosing a security line at the airport is almost always a battle between KP and me — mainly because he insists on changing lines 900 times. Now we know how to choose the right line.

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Here are some pleasant thoughts for those of you sending your child to school for the first time this year. I dread the day.

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I always like to treat myself on my birthday, but have never thought about doing this. Great idea.

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Have a lovely weekend.

 

Pic of the Week: Baltimore, Maryland

Baltimore, Maryland
Baltimore, Maryland

We’re wrapping up our East Coast road trip this week. With stops in Alexandria, Washington D.C., Baltimore and Scranton (so far), we’ve had so much fun seeing old friends and family. And we’ve had the luxury of taking naps! I’ll be sorry when it all ends at the end of the week.

On Sunday, we made our way from D.C. to Baltimore and stayed with my cousin — who I now kind of view as the unofficial mayor of Baltimore (look out, Stephanie) —  and his girlfriend. I say this because not only is he a well-planned host, but he also seemed to know everyone we ran into in the brief handful of hours that we were out and about that evening. When we arrived, he announced that we’d be going to the last summer concert in the park in their neighborhood, Patterson Park. That’s the photo on the right, above. And I think he shook hands with every single one of those people on the lawn. Kidding… but a lot of them, for sure.

Anyway, it was such a fun evening, albeit it brief since Miss Nora has such an early bedtime, but it was neat to get a small glimpse into their very tight-knit, friendly community. And the views of the city from the pagoda in the park are pretty fantastic.

The Week That Was: August 15, 2014

road tripImage source

And we’re off! We’re wrapping up summer with a road trip back east. We’ll visit family and friends in DC, Baltimore and Pennsylvania, plus we’ll celebrate four years of wedded bliss in New York City.

I know Nora’s too young to remember this trip, but it takes me back to road trips when I was a kid. We always drove on vacation, never flew. And when I was really young, our road trips often included two of my sisters and me in the backseat. Of a Ford Grenada. Yes, three children in the backseat. Oh the memories… She’ll be the lone traveler in our backseat, watching videos on her iPad to keep her entertained (hopefully). How times have changed. I insisted that when she’s a bit older, she take a coloring book and other non-electronic means of entertainment on road trips — like I did when I was a kid. That got an eye roll from KP…

I really look forward to this last hurrah of summer. I love the East Coast but whenever we visit, it’s typically a quick trip — and to a single destination. This time around it will be a bit different because we’ll have a car and we can be more leisurely. I aggressively checked out two books from the library, and I think I will enjoy reading them while treating myself to some delicious Manning’s ice-cream.

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I was utterly shocked — I guess like most people — to learn of the passing of Robin Williams this week. It’s chilling to watch him talk to Ellen about his new lease on life after his recent heart surgery.

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I’ve got my running playlist (not that it’s in rotation these days…) but I don’t have a travel playlist — yet.

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No more padlocks for bridges in the beautiful City of Light. Instead, they’re asking for selfies (!).

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Last weekend I read an entire book! If you’re looking for something light and fluffy yet still worth reading, I recommend Lauren Graham’s Someday, Someday, Maybe. But don’t be surprised if you feel like you’re reading a book by Sarah Braverman; the dialogue is written just as she speaks!

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I love a good fancy schmancy hotel, but especially these days, that’s not where I typically stay. Apparently there are deals to be had, though.

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Kudos to Maryam Mirzakhani, the first woman ever to be given math’s highest honor. I sure hope Nora has her dad’s math and science genes, otherwise she can forget about ever aspiring to something like this!

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Am I the only one who’s been told to fold a fitted sheet this way, yet it never looks like it does in the video?

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Forget fitted sheets — I’m on vacation! Have a lovely weekend.

15 Things To Do When it Rains on Vacation

St. Louis Arch | June 2014
St. Louis Arch
June 2014

It’s been a rainy summer in the Midwest, at least in our neck of the woods. So when I saw rain in the forecast for the week that we were going to the lake house, I cringed. Mother Nature and I had words. I needed sunny days by the pool, and more importantly, a tan! Luckily, this is about all the rain we saw, only en route to our final destination. Gray skies appeared here and there, but the rain stayed away. Phew…

Rain is really only bothersome to me on a vacation that involves serious sunbathing and pool and/or beach time. So what’s a gal to do when it rains on her parade vacation? Don’t let the weather ruin your fun. Here are 15 things you can do when rain hampers your vacation plans.

  1. Drink
    I believe I’ve already established the fact that I enjoy a tasty beverage. When the rains come, duck into a bar… or two or three… Rainy days in Londontown called for many pub crawls when friends visited me when I lived there. Sure, you have to get out in the rain to get from one bar to the next, but after a drink or two you won’t even care that it’s raining.
  2. Play games
    My family loves playing games. Every vacation we take involves some type of card game — Shanghai Rummy being the latest favorite. Sometimes we go old school and pull out the Uno cards. Fun all around!
  3. Cook
    Rainy weather makes me hungry, even if I’m not really hungry. Mac and cheese, anyone? If you’ve rented an apartment or house, or even a suite with a kitchenette, grab some things at the local supermarket and cook. Or, if you’re vacationing with a group, have a cooking competition.
  4. Read
    Reading is a quintessential rainy day activity. ‘Nuff said.
  5. See a movie
    Go to the local cinema and check out a flick, or check out something on pay-per-view at your hotel (get your head out of the gutter…). If you’re traveling internationally, you might find a local show that piques your interest. KP and I spent an entire afternoon in our hotel in London watching a Come Dine With Me marathon. I got him hooked!
  6. Visit a museum
    Get some culcha in your life. Visit a local museum.
  7. Go on a food crawl
    If cooking’s not your thing, skip suggestion #3 and go on a food crawl. Take the idea of a bar crawl but eat instead of drink (or, drink, too!). Share a small dish at each restaurant along the way so you don’t fill up too quickly. You could even do a themed food crawl, for example, cupcakes or desserts only.
  8. Go for a walk
    In the rain? Yes. If you’ve got an umbrella — or even if you don’t have one and don’t mind getting wet — don’t let the rain stop you from venturing out. In some countries, you almost have to suck it up otherwise you’ll never go out. I’m talking ’bout you, Ireland…
  9. Go for a drive
    Hop in the car and explore your destination that way. When my mom, sisters and I took a weekend trip to Bar Harbor, Maine, we had to drive to Cadillac Mountain rather than hike it (which was probably more appropriate for our group, anyway!). Don’t miss out on seeing something spectacular just because it’s raining.
  10. Consult the experts
    You’re in a completely new-to-you destination on vacation and it rains. You have no idea what to do. Maybe you’re not staying at a hotel so you don’t have a concierge to offer ideas. Go online and see what the experts say. There are so many travel sites out there that will point you in the right direction. I’m partial to TripAdvisor because they break down destinations by hotels, restaurants, attractions, etc., and each category has rankings.
  11. Have a spa day
    What better excuse to indulge and get pampered at the hotel or local spa?
  12. Bowl
    Bowling always sounds a little hokey, but every time I do it I have so much fun. I didn’t say I’m good, I just said I have fun. And you can take out some of your rain aggression by giving the ball a good toss down the lane.
  13. Shop
    Like reading, shopping is a quintessential rainy day pastime. Consider boosting the local economy your good deed.
  14. Nap
    Napping is yet another rainy day no-brainer — even better if it’s thunder-storming.
  15. Upload photos
    Don’t wait until your vacation is over to upload all your photos. It’ll never happen. Take advantage of a rainy day and get your photos uploaded, or catch up on email if you must.

What are your favorite things to do when it rains on vacation?

The Week That Was: August 8, 2014

Lake Ozark

I can’t believe we’re already rolling into our second week of August. When I saw the students over by DePaul in their “moving help” t-shirts the other day, I was confused for a minute. Then I realized, oh yeah, students are about to be back! I hate this time of year as the few weeks left of summer start to dwindle.

I’m missing Daisy something fierce. Loss and grief  is bizarre. One minute I’m okay and functioning perfectly fine in my daily life, and the next minute I’m a sloppy mess of tears. It doesn’t help that Boston Terriers are the cutest dogs on the planet so everyone wants one, and I inevitably see someone walking one every time I leave the house, it seems.

Next week begins our East Coast road trip, so plenty to do to prep for that this weekend. Whatever you’re up to, enjoy!

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Summer days are fading fast. Mix up a pitcher of sangria and enjoy while the mosquitoes are still biting.

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As cool as it looks in pictures, I can’t imagine how incredible Blood Swept Lands and Seas of Red must be in person.

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Haven’t taken your summer vacation yet? Here are eight packing tips, many of which I do myself. Roll your clothes; it really does save room!

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And maybe instead of schlepping your own luggage, you want to ship it to your destination. Ask the luggage shipping service these seven questions first.

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The Real Housewives are one of my vices — all of them except Atlanta and Orange County. I’m so glad my Jersey girls are back, but I’m gonna miss the New Yorkers, especially Ramona.

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Sad reality: few people ever ask dads how they can “do it all.”

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My list of ways to memorialize Daisy is growing. I’m fully prepared to be the crazy dog lady and wear one of these, because they’re just too sweet.

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Happy weekend!