July 28, 2011

Not So Southern Secret: Guy Harvey

While visiting with my fam this past week on vaca, my sister (who just got back from a vaca in some Caribbean heaven) brought me a gift. I thought this strange since it is HER birthday this week, and I was all prepared with gifts for HER.
What she gave me was a Guy Harvey shirt. 
Well BF is convinced he's been telling me about this forever, and my family is convinced I'm no longer southern that I've never heard of this.
Apparently this dude, Guy Harvey (I know, so obvious), puts these giant fish all over apparel and accessories and Southerns love it. I guess having grown up fishing, I should as well. However, having an awful proficiency at motion sickness, I don't leave the bank when I cast.
However, the shirt is a pretty color yellow, and has a stellar pocket to hold my knock-off Ray-bans.
Have y'all heard of this dude? Do you OWN any of this stuff? Thoughts? Am I just THAT oblivious that I've never seen/heard of this?

July 21, 2011

Mid-Summer Crisis

As I get ready for my once-a-year vacation, it dawned on me... it's time to start a new diet! I know, just the terminology seems silly. Having grown up in a household that harped upon eating healthy, lots of exercise and the right cut outfit, you'd think I'd learned my lesson. But honestly, after high school and no more competitive cheerleading (allowing for maximum caloric burn), it seems that age and a busy schedule are all working against me. So, as I pack and determine what I'll wear in the sunny glow of a beach... it has finally dawned on me that I need to take this part of life a bit more seriously.
Of late, BF has really been working hard to try being a vegetarian. With the passing of his grandmother and the revelation of potential genetic heart problems, he's really trying to be healthier. His parents have been doing this for a few months now, and really like how it's effected their lives. There's even a vegan/vegetarian restaurant that BF is really into (and I'll admit, they do make a mean faux chicken taco), the Chicago Diner.BF has even gone so far as to supply veggie burgers in my freezer when he comes to grill out with me.
While I don't want to be without my occasional steak, and definitely not without at least chicken/fish, it does seem like a good direction. I and definitely pro-more vegetables in one's diet. However, I also feel that major step needs to be in portion control. I had mentioned in a previous entry that I had tried out this new restaurant with my friend. S.P. that had all items under 470 calories and stressed fresh vegetables. This place seems to have the right idea, albeit limiting total sodium intake as well. 
I think I'm going to try this though (AFTER MY VACA, cuz god knows booze is not calorie-free).
What do you think? How do you maintain a work/health balance (I feel like working long hours does nothing to motivate me to be healthier)? Do you have any special dietary restrictions?

PS: Lauren Conrad even submits Slim Tips on her blog! If you have any fun recipes/work-outs, please let me know!

July 18, 2011

Weekend Recap - Beating the Heat

This past weekend I had a sorority sister blow into the Windy city, and with her came the heat... :) (SCORCHER ;) ).
We met up on Wednesday for some pedicures and dinner. We went to a local place where she convinced me to be a little adventurous (more to come later).
Afterward, we tried this local restaurant I had found online right down the street from my apartment.
Season52 is an AMAZING addition to my local foodie repertoire!
S.J.P. got the AMAZING Shrimp Salad that came in the most unique serving I've ever seen!
The waiter then lifted the glass bowl up and swirl it so the salad gracefully fell around the plate... lovely.
I got the Fillet Mignon with mashed potatoes and asparagus (YUMMERS!)
Then for desert they brought out this little handy endeavour:
Miniture deserts in SHOT GLASSES! Of course they were all ready to serve...
But it gets better! (I know, crazy!)
ALL ITEMS ON THE MENU ARE UNDER 475 CALORIES! The restaurant prides itself on locally grown seasonal sourcing and providing healthy foods in proper portions. I have to add, we left stuffed, almost finishing our plates...
Skip ahead to Friday.
I am lucky enough to get Summer Hours which entails the ability to leave work on Fridays around noon (or whenever in the afternoon we can sneak away). It's awesome. I left to meet up with some friends around 3pm for a happy hour at Bandito's down the street.
Mmmmm John Daley's!
Saturday I made my way into the city to meet up with a reader! It is so neat to connect with people from this little adventure of mine (and I extend the invitation that if you're ever in the area and would like to meet up, let me know!). Well K.B. (not to be confused with my sorority sister K.B.) and I met just down the street from BF's apartment at this little french restaurant, Bistrot Margot. It was lovely!
I'm somewhat sad I don't have my old french skills (although I'm sure Marce and Madame Weisendanger can attest they were never Stellar to begin with).
I greatly enjoyed the Croque Madame (basically a ham and cheese sandwich with and egg on top, and breakfast potatoes on the side). K.B was having a craving for the pancakes which they topped with the most amazing looking berries. Overall, it was a quaint restaurant, with great service, and limited crowd.
After brunch and some fun chatting about the south and Chicago, I made my way to Oak St. Beach to meet up with some sorority sisters who recently moved to the city. After some catching up, one of them caught a glimpse of my toes...
"Wait... You PAID for that???" ~E.S.
Yes, I got sea green nail-polish with a white french tip... while S.P. got purple with a silver glitter tip. I am officially crazy.
I ended up meeting S.P. again that evening while her hubby and sister-in-law went to a Goo Goo Dolls concert (yes, they still perform, apparently make new music as seen in the new Transformers movie, and S.P.'s hubby is OBSESSED!). 
We went just down the street from BF's apartment to Adobe grill, an old standby favorite.
Multiple Margs were a MUST!
 After some fun convo and delish food, we headed back to BF's apt where he insisted upon viewing his acting debut in POINT BREAK: LIVE. Long story short, this was a live version of the heinous 90's movie that appeared on stage in Chicago last summer. BF got pulled up to play the part of Keanu Reeve's character, Johnny Utah. And confusion/hilarity ensues.
 After a long day/night with friends, we crashed.
 Sunday we got up late and went to Brunch at our (My) favorite breakfast place, Nookies. We road our bikes (which BF could not be more thrilled about, but my butt was less thrilled about). I'm still getting used to this, especially in the increasing heat and humidity (I did NOT move to Chicago for 114 humidity!).
After brunch, we road our bikes to Oak Street beach to get cool in the lake and wait on BF's volleyball game. The sand was so hot, I staid on my towel or in the water the whole time (ps... Lake Michigan is gross, the that so does NOT count as a Beach). But what a view:
Hancock tower
View from the bike path.
After all that beach time, we made our way to the movies to meet up with G.M. to see Harry Potter! It was very sad to see that whole story line come to a close.
Phew... quite the weekend I know.... I'm just trying to survive this massive heat wave taking hold of the Midwest. I feel like Madame Summer just didn't think we knew it was summer and was like 'oh, you haven't turned your fans on yet... let me heat things up a bit so you have that honor'. I CAN NOT WAIT to go to the Beach!
What are y'all doing to stay cool?

July 11, 2011

Weekend Recap - BF's Birthday

This past weekend was BF's birthday. In celebration, I had gotten us tickets to do a L.A.T.E Ride sponsored by the Chicago Parks departments. But I'm getting ahead of myself...
BF came out to visit me on Friday evening. We had decided to break in my new bike and ride around Schaumburg a bit. After a bit of a rocky start, we road to Whole Foods where we shopped for some fresh goodies for dinner. BF's best friend DJ was supposed to come out and ride with us, but wasn't able to make it. He made it to go out in the area though. We ended up at a chill bar in Elgin (not my favorite neck of the woods, but we survived).
My friend MS spent the night and we all got up early and had Chocolate chip Pancakes! DJ had a baseball game in Wheaton and had to hit the road, and BF and I had thought we were meeting his parents for lunch in the city.... wires got crossed though and those plans got pushed back. 
BF and I decided to got to Dick's Sporting Goods (I feel I need to spell that out so as not to accidentally lead anyone to anything in-gentile) to get me a helmet for the ride. Afterward we popped over to the theater to see Horrible Bosses. I thought it was amusing but not split your side hysterical... BF thought otherwise.
Afterward we made our way into the city for a lazy afternoon resting up for our big ride, complete with Thai take-out and movie fest.
My friend Mel was having a fundraiser at a bar in Wrigleyville for Alz Stars, and BF and I wanted to support her! (Alzheimer's is a cause near and dear to BF's heart as he's had 3 grandparents effected by the awful disease). We road our bikes there (a seemingly bad idea in my opinion... but we won't go there) and enjoyed an adult beverage or two with friends:
Yes, riding your bike to a bar constitutes extra glistening and non-bar attire...
Afterward, BF and I road back to his apartment to grab the rest of our stuff and DJ to make our way down to Buckingham fountain. Did I mention this was a 1 AM ride? Well, it was ...
BF and I at the start... ready to RIDE!
DJ and BF, they are so excited to bike through the city.
The ride literally took us all over the city through Chinatown, Humble park, Wrigleyville and ended along the lake shore.
It was such a neat way to see the city, and it was so much easier to ride when the cops were shutting down the streets for us. We were lucky, and no one in our riding party got hurt, although we did see two seemingly non-serious injuries and a couple blown tires.
 We ended the whole thing watching the sun rise from Buckingham fountain.
It was all pretty neat!
I spent most of Sunday sleeping... and icing my soar body. I'm still recovering. That night BF's parents came in to take us to dinner. We went to a very famous Italian restaurant in Little Italy: Tufano's. We had some amazing cuisine (from which I now feel like I gained a million lbs...) but it was great food with great people.
And that my friends, was my weekend... I'm pooped. BF was worried with all my sleeping yesterday I wouldn't be able to sleep last night, but Tylenol PM said otherwise (and I feel like I could sleep some more too!).
What'd you do this weekend? How'd you cope with the God-Awful heat that we've been dealing with?

July 7, 2011

I like to Ride my BIKE!

BF has been nagging me to get a bicycle so that we can ride along the lake shore together. At first he wanted me to get a road bike like the one he spent a LOT of $$ last summer for his triathlons...
Thankfully after our little ride two weeks ago (and my long recovery for my sore bum) I convinced him I DEFINITELY needed a cruiser or something with a comfy seat.
I've been pricing them out and reading the reviews. I also was budgeting for just under $200 (I know, seemingly unreasonable with the average bike costing around $350-$450).
I finally settled on one from SEARS! It's the closest I'll come to being able to afford the GORGEOUS Lilly Pulitzer bikes :(
This is the bike all 'tricked out'. I took off the fenders as they were kind of in the way, got more banged up then I would've liked, and made it that much more awkward loading and unloading from the car. I also went to Dick's Sporting Goods and picked up a few things:
1.) Wire Basket to carry all my super important stuff (including future picnic baskets!)
2.) Bike Lock
3.) Bike Tire Pump
4.) (and most important of all) a Bell... so I no longer have to yell 'ON YOUR LEFT'!
I'm super excited as it's BF's birthday this weekend and we have something fun planned. I'll keep you posted with all the details in my weekend recap.
What do you think of my bike? Do you have a bike? Do you use it often?

July 5, 2011

Weekend Recap - 4th of July

Things have been absolutely insane lately, so I apologize for not giving any updates.
This past week, I am sorry to report that BF's grandma Anna passed.
BF, Grandma Anne, myself, and Nana in March for lunch
This past week has been filled with helping BF's family through this difficult time. We had the wake on Thursday, and a beautiful service on Friday Morning. To make matters complicated, BF's cousin was getting married on Friday afternoon (other side of the family). We managed to make the reception which was a god-send because it gave everyone something happy to take their minds off a tragic loss. BF's brother was in town and ended up bring a date. We got along splendidly and she cracked me up all night:
She thought our salads looked like monkeys! HAHAHA
The Salad in question... you decide.
After all this crazy business, I was very excited for the weekend, but most ESPECIALLY because my good friend S.S. was coming to visit! S.S. and I worked together at my old company (she still resides there with her wonderful hubby who is on the local police force). I HAVE to get back to visit soon so we can enjoy a night at J.J. Winery with our favorite waiter BRADLEY ;) (S.S. - We're planning this and our NY visit with K.D. ASAP!)
S.S. got to my new apt around lunch and we proceeded to grill out and have some adult beverages. After catching up over lunch, we decided we DESPERATELY needed pedicures and managed to find a half-way decent place within 2 miles. After getting said pedi's, we met up with BF at his parents house and grab him and his friend to make our way to Rib Fest in Naperville. 
SS and I snuck away for a bit and enjoyed some of the good ole' carny rides:
The rocking ship..
The tilt-a-whirl!
We even sampled the fare at the Fest:
Awesome Trophy in front of the stand... Dad calls it his 'Father of the Year' award.
This year we were excited to learn that STYX was playing. Last year, BF and I went and watch Charlie Daniels. The only issue with this year was it was so ungodly hot! I swear it got in the high 90's if not 100 and there seemed to be no-end in sight! But the sun finally went down around 8:30 and we got to enjoy some stellar 80's theatrical rock.
SS and I made our way back home to recoup. We got up early on Sunday and had chocolate chip pancakes compliments of moi before heading in to the city. We were meeting up with BF again for Taste of Chicago. SS hadn't gotten to go to the Taste in YEARS, and was craving a dipped Cheesecake on a stick (and I was craving my corn on the cob!)
We first got some Billy Goat and took this pick for SS's hubby because he's a die-hard White Sox fan and believes that this restaurant is only for Cubbies...
This place has AMAZING eggplant parm sandwiches!
She got her Cheesecake!
We tried our hand at cranberry farming with the Ocean Spray Folks... turns out our feet got gross.
Bf was pretty good at it though!
And I FINALLY got my corn on the cob from Dominick's stand! They were the ones to first introduce me to putting parm on it! (making a butter dipped vegetable that much more unhealthy)
 After the Taste, we started to make our way back to BF's apt. We literally stumbled upon this little stream hidden in the gardens of Millennium park. It was amazing because it allowed us to soak our toseys on a very hot day... which who knew was exactly what the doctor ordered!
Our little hidden stream.
 After getting back on the Train SS wanted to stop by some of the adorable dogie boutiques in Lincoln Park, such as Barker & Meowsky: a Paw Firm, to pick up some treats for her babies at home! We then grabbed a bite at Renaldi's just down the street from BF's apartment.
After such a long day we made our way back to the burbs for some R&R (Rest and Riesling) and some cheesy movies (Beastly) which were only made better by tipsy commentary.
 SS sadly had to make her way home early Monday morning, but I was happy that her hubby was off and she'd get to spend some time with him. It was a much needed girls weekend made better by a great friend!
Monday, I was exhausted from all the traveling, and just wanted to lay by the pool....
Remember when I said I had gotten my burn out of the way for the season... apparently the sun didn't think so, and I ended up toasted. But I enjoyed relaxing with with friend M and our Margaritas! 
All in all, it was a pretty good weekend. These holiday weekends are never long enough though and I always end up more tired them when I started, but I'm hoping to catch up on some rest this week; We'll see.
How was your holiday weekend? Did you catch any fireworks?

PS: BF has been jonesing to write a guest blog entry about his view of preppy life in Chicago and things he's interested in. What would y'all think of that? Would you be interested in BF's entry? Let me know! Thanks!