Saturday, May 25, 2013

In vacation mode....


I'm all set.

I'm ready.

I think I may have packed more for a week in Florida,
than two weeks in Europe.

There is a slight chill in the air here in Chicago...

I'm anxious to exchange the 50 degree temps for the 
80 degrees I saw happening in Florida.

Wheels up!

Friday, May 24, 2013

I've got two tickets to paradise....



I'm headed to Fort Lauderdale, Florida to celebrate...
a lot of things...
but, namely...
OUR BIRTHDAY!


I hope I can sleep tonight...
I am that excited to get away....


I just want to walk on the beach....
feel the sun...
smell the air...
get in the ocean...
relax...
and just 
BE.

Happy Memorial Day Weekend!


Thursday, May 23, 2013

Life.



We are reminded quite frequently these days of how precious life is.

How fleeting.

How wild.

How temporary.

How wonderful.

How special.

How PRECIOUS.

The Summer Day

Mary Oliver

Who made the world?
Who made the swan, and the black bear?
Who made the grasshopper?
This grasshopper, I mean-
the one who has flung herself out of the grass,
the one who is eating sugar out of my hand,
who is moving her jaws back and forth instead of up and down-
who is gazing around with her enormous and complicated eyes.
Now she lifts her pale forearms and thoroughly washes her face.
Now she snaps her wings open, and floats away.
I don’t know exactly what a prayer is.
I do know how to pay attention, how to fall down
into the grass, how to kneel down in the grass,
how to be idle and blessed, how to stroll through the fields,
which is what I have been doing all day.
Tell me, what else should I have done?
Doesn’t everything die at last, and too soon?
Tell me, what is it you plan to do
with your one wild and precious life?


Now she snaps her wings open and floats away...

That made a beautiful visual...

Open your eyes...spread your wings...

and live the beautiful, wild, precious life you have 
imagined.

Stay safe while you are living beautifully this holiday weekend!




Thursday, May 16, 2013

You only live once.


Au Cheval, an eatery in Chicago's West Loop. 

In culinary terms, Au Cheval means "egg on top"
You could add an egg to almost everything on the menu for one dollar.
Do it.  
I wish I had added it to my burger...but I didn't...now I have to go back.

Darn.


I would describe this place as an American diner with a European flare.
An upscale diner.
A hip diner.
It was quaint...dimly lit...with a wood wrapped reel to reel 
playing soul, rock and indie music.
I totally loved it.
Bon Appetit named Au Cheval the best new burger in America.
I'll vouch for it...I ate one mighty fine burger...but damn if I didn't Au Cheval it.


The craft beer list was extensive...don't judge me...but I ordered a Budweiser.
I start to fret with all the choices...I don't know what to order but I know how to order a Bud.
Next time...I'll try something crafty.


We were seated at a table and promptly greeted. 
I had been here one other time.
Late at night.
We had been celebrating Stacia's birthday but we had eaten at Maude's down the street.
I remember thinking it had an old fashioned feel.
Like an old diner turned trendy and hip. 


 Ashley and I were having such a good time!


We split the fries topped with an egg and it included multiple dipping sauces...
right up my alley.


The single cheeseburger is somewhat a misnomer...
there were two patties on it...
I didn't mind...
but I do regret not adding the egg...and
THE BACON!!!
I mean what happened to chow down now and feel guilty later?


We ended up moving to the bar after dinner.
I actually prefer to sit at the bar in a restaurant.
This is where all the action happens.


And where we discovered that not adding the bacon was
a HUGE mistake.
It was thick...peppered...it looked amazing.
Oh the regret.
I must go back.


After dinner we had tickets to see RAC at The Mid.


We were early.  
Who knew the venue didn't even open until ten. 
This got me wondering what time the band played.


While we waited and wondered about the show...
we stood outside and took pictures with our cool feather headbands on.


Here is where I humbly admit what happened.

We made our way inside.  
Ash needed to use the ladies so I decided to go to the bar and get us a couple of drinks.
While I was there...I casually asked what time RAC was due to come on.
The bartender replied that RAC plays from 2:00 - 3:30.

What?  

Did I hear you correctly?
They don't even start until 2:00am?

OH my.

I found Ash...told her the news...
and this is what she said.

Come on Mel...
YOU ONLY LIVE ONCE!
You can do it.

Where was this advice when I was debating on adding egg and bacon to my burger?

I'll admit...I sorta died inside.
I don't do a start time of 2:00am for anything these days.
I mean, in all reality, I've hopefully had about four hours of sleep by that time.

Regardless, how could I say I wouldn't try.

So, we sipped our drinks...secured a seat and waited.

Then some sort of miracle happened.

Forty-five minutes later Ash said, you wanna go? 

That was all I needed.

We grabbed a cab and ventured home.

We brunched the following day...
shopped Michigan Avenue and had a wonderful time together.


Thanks for sharing some time with me Ash.  

I loved every minute of it!




Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Literary foraging - bring a shovel.


 AH HA!  
This past Saturday I found Bookman's Corner OPEN!
I went in...

It said no camera's allowed...
but there was no way anyone
would see me take a few snaps.
W H O A
Piles....and PILES 
of books.
Thus, I began my search to find exactly what I forgot I was looking for.
WARNING: If OCD stay away.
Somehow, the mystery in the overwhelming disorganization
caused quite a stir in me.
I wasn't sure where to begin...
so, I just wandered.
I let myself get lost looking.
Picking up random books...
listening to conversations...
watching people...
I loved it here.
The 'locator tabs' were hand-made...
the owner's attempt at applying some sort of structure to the chaos.
And the smell...just like I had imagined.
I wouldn't come here looking for something specific...you will never find it.

I walked away with four books for $6!
I replaced Catcher in the Rye as I gave my copy to Vee.
I've been wanting to read Sharp Objects every since I couldn't put down Gone Girl!  Score!
The proprietor told me as he picked up Steinbeck, promise me you will throw this book away once you've finished reading it.  In fact, he tossed the book behind him in a pile and laughed.  I'd be doing you a favor, you know.  Then he said, okay, I can't charge you more than a $1.
 Still want it?
 I can already tell I may not get through it...what is with the classics?
Ah...my fav...Oscar Wilde...couldn't pass it up. 
I'll tell you something, this place deserves a special trip.
I can't wait to bring Steinbeck back.
*heehee*
It was about closing time when I left.
I walked outside and saw this station wagon.
You're thinking what I'm thinking...aren't you?
Seems to me, the guy who owns the book store,
probably owns this car.


Thursday, May 9, 2013

Rare...Medium...Well Done


Bookman's Corner...a hidden (no understatement) gem in Lincoln Park.
I've walked by this...book store? many times.
It has never been open...at least when I have passed by.

I'm dying to go in.


I'm intrigued by this place.

It's hard to see...but the books...are just haphazardly tossed throughout the store.
Buried...one on top of the other.
I've peered inside...stacks of books, papers, stuff...everywhere.

I must get in there.


I'm pretty certain he isn't using the Dewey Decimal System...
in fact, there seems to be no system in place at all.

But, can you imagine the smell of all the old books?
What hidden treasures await?

If you know me, I love the hunt of a really good deal.
I'm anxious to peruse and find some hidden coffee table book or
some dusty copy of the next classic on my list.


A chaotic mess...
but it looks like a fantastic place to kill some time this Saturday or Sunday 
while the rain comes down...


So, I'll grab my Indiana Jones hat and make my way inside there this weekend...
I'll let you know what turns up.


CLOSED. 
Damn.





If I am being honest....

I was asking myself this question on Monday.

One more day people.

One more day!

Monday, May 6, 2013

What is beauty?







This video produced by Dove, has been floating around the web.  

I love it.

The first time I watched it...I tried to answer the questions he was asking...

Describe your hair...

What would you say is your most prominent feature?

As I thought about my face...I did exactly as the women in the video...

I minimized myself.  

I described an ugly version of me.

How sad.  But the reality is...we are all so hard on ourselves.

What a great reminder of how NOT to treat yourself.

Beauty...seems like such a controversial word in a way.

What is beauty?

We may all describe it differently...but I hope this video has helped to change the definition of beautiful for ourselves.

You are beautiful, just the way you are.

Be gently with yourself.

Be kind to yourself.

Be Beautiful. 

Sunday, May 5, 2013

Celebrating Cinco de Mayo

Big Star Mexican Restaurant


Located in the heart of Wicker Park, Chicago


How kewl is this place?  


They have killer margaritas.
Cheers.


The website describes BIG STAR as 
an electric menu inspired by Mexican street food 
in a space reminiscent of a California Honky Tonk.

I may like this place a little more now just because of that spot on description.


Make no mistake...we ate all of these chips...
and drank the entire pitcher...


Fish tacos.  
Talk about electric.
I had to order some sour cream to put out the flames. 


I am so very thankful that I have been blessed with such an amazing friend.

Thank you Katie for spending time with me.

I had so much fun and laughed out loud so hard I may have peed my pants.  (*sigh*)

It always goes way too fast.

Until Corey Lake my friend...I can't wait to see you then!



Thursday, May 2, 2013

Perception(s)?



How fascinating, right?

Are you mindful?

or

Do you count on others to reinforce your own ideas...or beliefs?

I wonder...when you only see what you want...are you prohibiting the truth?  

Is what YOU see, becoming your reality?

Think about it.



Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Farm to table...go to The Bristol

It felt like the perfect Chicago evening...

Stacia and I met at The Bristol in Bucktown.

What a chic place.  

I loved the ambiance...rustic with a trendy vibe.

Although the tables were nestled literally next to one another...
it still felt private and cozy.


This place ROCKED.


Let me tell you why.


 I love that they support our Midwest farmers!


We started with a mixed green salad coated in a tarragon-buttermilk dressing.
I can't believe I am going to rave about a mixed green salad but...
it was fantastic!
There weren't even any veggies in it...lettuce...some onions that I picked around, and that dressing...
YUM!


Burnt broccoli...literally, that is how the waiter described it.
It was topped with parmesan and draped with bbq carnitas or something...need I say more?


And...here is where I died and went to heaven.
THE most amazing steak tartare. 

This was no joke.
  
I may have stopped talking...to consume more than my fair share of this...
and, I was tempted to order seconds.  
Stacia and I are known to do this...when some dish knocks our socks off...we order another one...fried black-eyed peas and burnt brussell sprouts come to mind!


In my case, a gourmet mac and cheese and short ribs on any menu will stop me in my tracks. I promptly order them without even glancing at the rest of the menu.
So, when Stacia said the short ribs were amazing, I was like, order it!

On the approach, the waiter, asked where he should place the pasta...
I thought to myself..pasta?  
Who ordered this...we didn't order this...
In that moment...in my mind...
I was sorting out how he got pasta from can we doubled the short rib order....
yes, this is how we roll. 
We do not mess around.

I guess I hadn't read further than short ribs...because they were stuffed inside these pasta shells... swimming in some sort of amazing sauce and topped with fresh parmesan. 

Seriously,  who wants to meet me at The Bristol tomorrow?   


Moscow mules and some crisp beers to wash it all down.

Sinfully delightful.

I could go on and on raving about the food experience...but, I think you get the picture.

I loved it and I highly recommend running to this restaurant.  

From start to finish...it exceeded my expectations.  

My only regret is not ordering the monkey bread...next time!

All of that aside...
the evening was enhanced by the company of my dear friend.

Thank you, Stacia for the awesome conversation....for sharing your dreams and your visions.

You are constantly inspiring me and today, I found myself dreaming...
which made me feel my spirit awaken.

Thank you for that and for being such a good friend.

Cheers!