August 30, 2011

Weekend Recap: I don't think we're in Chicago anymore

 This past weekend I made a trip to visit my good friend S.S. back in Richmond, Indiana. This tiny town on the boarder of Indian and Ohio is where I spent the last 3 years of my life (post-college). I took a job at a local manufacturer in their marketing department, and there I stayed before my venture into the fabulous world of fashion! S.S. still lives there though with her wonderful husband (who is an honorable member of the local law enforcement). S.S. works at the same manufacturer; we actually interviewed together as and took the trip to the second interview together (she's a PURDUE grad too!).
Both S.S. & T.C. were hired on with me. They both went to Purdue! This was on the bus ride from our hotel to the office visit and plant tour!
Anywho, I was able to take advantage of summer hours (only a couple more Fridays left :( ) and get down in time for dinner. I even got to stop by the Candle Outlet to pick up goodies for mom.
 The drive is about 4 hours; I used to make it fairly frequently when I lived there and BF lived in Chicago. But I was there in plenty of time to enjoy an evening at J&J's winery. This was one of our favorite 'haunts' as we would sit there sipping wine and muching on cheese and crackers, snapping for Bradley our waiter... oh good times. Mmmmm.... their Chaos wine is my favorite, but they ran out of lables on our bottles... I loved this:

I bought way too much wine to bring back...
S.S and I enjoying our evening.
 Thanks to S.S.'s husband, we got to play around with the breathalyzer and were given field sobriety tests. Needless to say, I am apparently a high functioning imbiber... but I also learned that law enforcement can take you in regardless of how you perform on the tests. (scary).
Saturday we got up early and made our way to 5th Street Bagel; this is one of my old haunts and has the BEST bagels I've ever had as well as my favorite Hazelnut coffee.
5th Street Bagel counter
 Then we went on our old walking trail for some nice long girl chats!
 After that we refreshed, ran some errands and made our way to Ghyslain's in the old depot district. This is one of the nicest restaurants in the town. It's a chocolatier on par with any I experienced in Paris. It's AMAZING and so affordable! Plus check out all their goodies!

The delicious food left us in a coma... we wondered around the Depot District for a while before picking up some movies and vegging the afternoon away. We watch Tangled! Such a cute movie! For dinner we took a field trip to Indy for Sushi! Sakura is a favorite of ours. BF introduced me to it a while back and we used to meet here as it was half way between Purdue and Richmond and BF was there for an extra football season.
It was quite the wonderful weekend with a wonderful friend! There are so many great little hidden treats to be found in little towns like Richmond. Something I never fully understood when they were all around me for 3 years.
On my way back, I stopped at Purdue. I'm looking forward to this weekend's first football game of the season. I hoping I can find someone to ride down with me. We have such a great tailgating group, I'm super excited for the season!
This weekend is also Labor Day Weekend. What are y'all doing? Anything fun for the last weekend of the summer?

August 24, 2011

Lilly Pulitzer - New Sale Section

Typically, I have to wait for a Rue La La sale, or when I can actually find a store that carries it up North. 
Lilly Pulitzer now has a SALE section on their website! 
God... this is bad.... this is VERY VERY BAD!
I'm hoping to only keep 2-3... it all depends on what fits/looks the best.
Check out my spending spree below:
Went a bit overboard...
what have you purchased lately? Do you ever feel buyers-remorse??

August 23, 2011

Weekend Recap: Guess Who's Coming to Dinner?

This past weekend I was excited to welcome my parents to my new humble abode.
They flew in late afternoon/ early evening Friday from Atlanta. I had just enough time for a tottie hors d'oeuvres before our 6:15pm reservation at my new favorite restaurant Seasons52.
We called it an early evening because we intended to get up fairly early to make it down town for the Air & Water Show.
We woke up to kind of crummy weather, so we threw and audible and decided to make our way to the Museum of Science & Industry. This is especially neat, as neither my dad nor I had been. But really because it's one of the last surviving buildings of the Chicago World's Fair. (PS. do they still have World's Fairs? They just sound so neat!). Fun Fact: They first exhibited a Ferris Wheel and the Egyptian Belly dance as we know it at this particular World's Fair. If you're interested in really cool stories from History, I HIGHLY recommend the book (or Audiobook in my case) of 'The Devil in the White City'. It's not a 'pretty' tale, but it just seems so suited for a city with Chicago's History of crime.
They had a huge train exhibit... I'm a Boilermaker... but the two together:
Chicago landscape... at the train exhibit.
More Trains... they just went on for ever.
I apologize, based on the pictures I took, you'd think I had a one track mind (Football in t-minus 2 weeks...). But seriously, it was super fun and reminded me of when I was growing up going through Atlanta's SciTrek (sadly closed in 2004 due to lack of federal funding), where you could play with different 'scientific' things (mostly optical illusions and water/sand stations). We saw the baby chicks hatching, lightening made (both indoors and out), and a coal mine!
After spending the morning exploring our scientific natures, we made our way back (also via public transit... Dad was apt to say they were doing the Planes, Trains, and Buses trip). It just so happened to drop us right in front of Billy Goat Tavern... so we just HAD to go in (plus Dad had been doing the SNL skit all morning, I think he was trying to hint something).
Mom and I getting our Billy Goat on!
And wouldn't you know, just as we were emerging from Lunch, the Sun broke through for a spectacular Chicago summer day!
Mom insisted we walk down Michigan Ave. We popped into the Trib Building, and a couple stores (just to peak). We finally made it to the Hancock Building. One of Chicago's tallest buildings, Mom was almost insistent that we all pay for a tour. BF however had the skinny... the 95 & 96 floor is a restaurant and bar and we made our way up for the view!
View of the Pier from the Ladies Bathroom: some say this is the best view in the city!
Another view, but from where we were having a cocktail watching the Fighter jets make there way to North Ave. Beach for the Show!
After so much adventure, Mom, Dad, & I made our way back out to the Burbs. BF & his parents were coming over for dinner!
Dad was super helpful playing grill master and teaching me all the ways to prepare veggies via the grill. Mom made the peach (& Blue berry) cobbler (recipe compliments of Paula Deen... SUPER EASY!)
We greatly enjoyed a night of great company and conversation.
Sunday, I had planned to go to brunch over at Wildberry, but having so much food in the apartment (which I'm never apt to do), it just felt like a waste. We snacked a bit and took our time waiting on the stores to open. Mom and I walked to get Dad a paper from a 7eleven up the street. After some dallying at Barnes &\ Noble, we finally went on the greatest adventure of the weekend: Sofa Shopping.
Long story short, I have my parents old pull-out sofa. It's probably like 25-30 years old and is dying... a slow and agonizing death (made that much more apparent after my recent move).
Nana, having prepared for this day, sent her Macy's Money & Associate card with Mom so we could get the best possible pricing. Needless to say we were not look at the Lilly Pulitzer line :(.... way WAY out of the price range.
I loved this one by Sherrill Furniture... but it was just too insanely priced, also not a pull out.
This beautiful olive one was also by Sherrill Furniture, out of my price range, only a love- seat, and not a pull-out
 After mucho debating, I believe I'll be going this week to get myself a new sofa! It's a neutral color queen pull-out.
Mom tried her darndest to get me to get this chair too:

I love it! But it's just not in the budget right now. I'm hoping it'll go on sale in January and then ... MAYBE. But I want to do it all myself.
I've been very very fortunate as I've never had to purchase furniture before. When I moved to my first apartment after college, my mom literally had everything in the garage waiting for me... write down to the pots & pans and silver wear. I'll let y'all know once the receipt is signed whether I have any buyers remorse, but I'm a pretty decisive person... I mean I bought a brand new car 2 years ago and had zero remorse... other than when wildlife attack me....
Have you ever made any big purchases like this? Has it made you want to have an unlimited budget to design a whole house too?
Check out these other finds I liked (and trust me when I say 'you don't want to know the price'):
Only in HJ's & My's Scarlett O'Hara Dreams...

August 15, 2011

Weekend Recap - Southern Hospitality

This weekend was very relaxing.
Saturday I met up with some girl friends for BBQ & the movie 'The Help' in the city.
The BBQ left much to be desired, and the smokey atmosphere coated my clothes... so I got to remember my lunch all day... (El's Kitchen)
Makes me want to go try the Southern even more now!
We had planned to go to the movie because we were expecting incremental weather.It was actually beautiful in the morning which left me somewhat regretting this choice, however we could here the huge thunderstorm throughout the movie.
 I had borrowed the audio book for 'The Help' a few weeks ago and greatly enjoyed it (even imitating a faux southern accent I NEVER had thanks to the audio).
I liked the movie, and I suppose like most other book-adaptations, I would've enjoyed it better if I had never read the book. However, having already experienced the book, my expectation level was already high. It did follow the general story line and the characters did seem genuine, although I felt they played it safe. The overall story is still very sensitive in this day-and-age, and I felt that the book was able to touch on some interesting perspectives and provide insight without prejudice. I felt the movie left out a lot of these background stories, either due to time or cojones. I highly recommend the book.
Have y'all read the book? Do you plan to see the movie?

August 10, 2011

Mais Oui

After work yesterday I went with a friend to a local restaurant for some drinks (primarily wine) to wind down from a long day. After we had eaten, we were just hanging out and chatting when these two older gentlemen came  to sit next to us at the bar. One was very subdued and kept to himself, the other was extremely 'out there' and quite frankly, kind of creepy. HOWEVER, this being said, it turns out he spoke french. I don't know if it was my outgoing nature, or the fact that M and I were on our 2nd bottle of Malbec, but we started talking in FRENCH! This went on for quite sometime, and although he was very patient with my broken/conversational dialect, I remembered why I only took the required years in school and didn't continue.
It also made me remember that there are several things that I happen to LOVE that are french:
French Manicures
French Onion Soup
French Vogue
French Kitchen
Johnny Depp lives in France!
What languages did you take in Middle/High School and/or College? Do you like anything else that's French?

August 9, 2011

RAYGUN - Torpedo of Truth!

While in Des Moines, IA this past weekend, I was told I was not allowed to leave the state without visiting a local t-shirt shop. The shop, RAYGUN, makes prints about local suburbs/schools/geographies/people/etc. They're pretty darn funny!
Below are some of my favorite:
Chicago vs. "Chicago"
FireFly - this is the one I got!
Gaga for Cornfields
Sin in Wisconsin
Ray Gunvera
Do you have any small town stores that are a must in your home town? In and around the Midwest? I love finding neat hole-in-the-wall type places that provide unique finds!

August 8, 2011

Weekend Recap:Children of the Iowa Corn

This past weekend started slightly early, due to a team bonding celebration at a local fave:
We were there to have a Good-bye celebration for a beloved team member who's moving back home to Nebraska. During the course of the night, my boss told the team that that morning I accepted a promotion! Yes, I am OFFICIALLY a MANAGER! I'm super super excited and feel so blessed and honored to be asked. I'm not sure when my official duties start, but I have so many ideas.
A couple of co-workers and myself at the Lounge.
The boys all got beer flights, some for the first time. It was a fun little bonding session
 This past weekend I had been planning to go visit my good friend and sorority sister J.M. out in Iowa. She's in law school at Drake, and about to enter her final year (I think in lawyer-y terms it's called 'second year', but that just seems too Hogwarts for me).
I haven't gotten to go on any long trips lately. Ever since I've moved to Chicago, and post-college, I've never really had a need to drive more than an hour & a half any where (but obvi that doesn't include midwest traffic). When I used to drive to and from Atlanta & Purdue (all 9 hours) I used to survive on Romantic Audio Books from Cracker Barrel. For those of you who are unaware of this amazingness, basically you can go buy an audio book from any Cracker Barrel for full price, listen to it and return it to another Cracker Barrel for only $3-$5 in cost. It pretty much rocked. Especially because my mom kind of scared me into thinking that the only acceptable bathrooms to stop at were cracker barrel, I'd just pick up new books at each and return them once i got to my destination. Well, with the traffic in Chicago being what it is, I've revisited using these as a time-waster tool. Buying audio books on itunes tends to be somewhat pricey, so I've been getting them from my local library. This is what I did for this 10 hour round trip!
It made things go by so quickly! 

PS: You would never know our country was going through a drought with all the corn and soybeans I saw driving on 80/88...

I was able to take advantage of my company's amazing summer hours and get to J.M's by 5pm. Just in time for our other sorority sister C.B. (formerly C.S.) to pick us up to head down town for some fun & dinner!
C.B. has been living in the Des Moines area for about 3-4 years working for John Deere and has a BEAUTIFUL new baby. A friend of hers was having a shop party, so we all headed down.
Her friend's shop is Eden.
This was a lovely French soaps and scents store with tons of awesome goodies. One of my faves that I found was from The Laundress. I purchased their Wash & Stain bar because it so much reminds me of what my bathroom smelled like at the Farm. I had to get it! I also got a few other things that just smelled fabu, but I tried not to go too crazy. C.B. was trying to introduce me to this shaving soap she had gotten her husband from there. I love the idea of guys using shaving bar soaps and a brush and she apparently just got that for her husband! I managed to refrain only because I know how particular BF is about his beauty products ;)
Afterward, for dinner we walked just down the street to Lucca's. It was a wonderful new Italian restaurant that provided a prix fix menu with great portioned, tasty items! I purposefully didn't take pictures because I'm actively trying to move away from focusing on food (sorry). But suffice it to say it was REALLY good!
The next day, we all made our way down to the Farmers Market.
Largest Zucchini I've EVER SEEN!
Awesome coffee table made out of an old door! And it worked! And it was only $325!!
After the Farmers Market & Breakfast at one of the local booths, we walked around the lovely city of Des Moines. It's really a quaint town that is reminiscent of an older Indianapolis. There are quite a few major insurance corporations based out of Des Moines and some major agricultural companies. It has a lot of art work, parks, pedestrian walk ways, and just beautiful architecture. We had a nice time just walking around and shopping.
After a morning in the city, we made our way back to C.B.'s to assist in Corn preparation for the winter (basically 'canning', except it was getting frozen in zip-locks after blanching and shucking). After mucho cooking and glasses of Limonchello (a new recipe I will DEFINITELY be making and posting about!), we had a lovely dinner of Steaks and Corn.
 Sunday morning J.M. & me got up to meet C.B. for Brunch at a local restaurant: Radish
They had a wonderful buffet that was quite enjoyable.
I was able to help C.B. with a bit of a company discount on some recent purchases then headed back East (that sounds so much like a western... 'I'm heading back East').
After some much needed work on Junior League projects, I got organized for the week and here we are!

What'd y'all do this weekend? Anything fun?

August 3, 2011

MyFitnessPal App

Have y'all heard of this App?
 I used this a few months ago, and it really makes you keep track of how you treat your body (eating & exercise). I find it EXTREMELY helpful in making nutritional/healthy decisions, especially at restaurants!
It keeps track of your weekly calories based on a plan for your target weight loss.
All the nutritional information helps to understand what your diet entails. Nana would love this, because she tries to stay as far away from salt/sodium as humanly possible.
It also has a cool scanning option where you can take a picture of a Bar-code on your packaged food and it will automatically tell you all the nutritional information and serving sizes.
What do y'all do to help your diets? Do you keep a food diary?