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Friday, October 29, 2010

A Pleasure To Do My Civic Duty (+ DMK Burger Bar)

I was summoned to be a standby juror at Daley Plaza this week.  Wah wah – no one likes being called for jury duty, but I'm glad it was downtown.

Since I was fortunate enough to never have my panel number called, I was able to finish sewing Mia’s Halloween costume, do two crossword puzzles, have a 1.5 hour lunch in Millennium Park, and take a nap.  At 3pm I was dismissed, given my $17.20 check, and then hit up State Street for shopping.  Not a bad day at all! I was pretty bummed that I didn’t have my camera when I had all this time to roam the city on a gorgeous day.  But I still enjoyed people watching at the Bean, taking in the skyline and having lunch in the warm sun. J

Later that night I caught up with a friend for dinner.  We were going to try La Gondola becauseI had a Groupon.  It was a Wednesday night, so I didn’t think I had to call ahead of time.  Well when we walked in to see this little place had like seven tables, I was very wrong about not calling.  We could get a table in an hour at 8:15.  No thanks. 

I thought to check out DMK Burger Bar since it was just a few minutes down Wellington. Burger bars have been popping up all over the city recently.  Here's my review... The hostess was going to seat us at this long high boy where there were like five parties of two seated.  Awkward. I’d prefer not to sit at a table like that when they’re not part of my group!  Thankfully, we were able to get a separate table just for the two of us.  There was no wait at this point, but when we left around 8:45, people were standing around waiting to be seated.

I ordered the #1 (aged cheddar, smoked bacon, charred balsamic red onions, BBQ sauce) and my friend got the #5 (prosciutto, fontina, pesto, red pepper).  We also went with sweet potato fries with lemon tobasco aioli and parmesan fries with truffle cream to share.  I think they also pride themselves on craft beers.  I do love burgers & beer, but Lil Mama couldn't bear letting 5oz of milk go down the drain. So I didn’t try any. L We didn’t have to wait too long for the food so that was a plus.  But I had to ask the waitress to fill up my glass of water on three occasions – one of my pet peeves when out to eat, negative. The d├ęcor was also depressing. The main wall looked unfinished - like cement colored with paint chipping.  I think that’s the look they were going for, but it’s not working. Lastly, it was WAY too loud in there.  We could barely hear each other.

Ok back to the burgers…The burgers were thin, which explains why they don’t ask how you want it cooked like most good burger places. But they were tasty.  I was super full afterwards, mostly because of the fries and their sauces - which felt heavy towards the end.  I wanted to ask for ketchup, but it seemed like that would be taboo. I wouldn’t recommend the parmesan fries since they were nothing special (I was very disappointed), but the sweet potato ones were good. 

Annnnnnd that was a really long post about a burger joint – sorry! I don't get out much, so when I do, I take it all in!  To wrap up, my friend said “That’s the best burger I’ve ever had!” I wouldn’t go that far. Or even near that.  But I may be back if I’m in the area.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

First Family Photo Shoot

As Halloween approaches, the beautiful fall colors are quickly disappearing and temperatures are dropping.  A few more weeks and it’ll be bare trees and warm coats! Before we know it Thanksgiving will pass and Christmas will be upon us.  But before all that happens, I took advantage of the decent weekend to take pictures outside.  I was so excited when my dear friend asked me to take Christmas pictures for her family!  Finally!  Some free practice (other than Doug, Mia, Ryu, Kira and my food)!  I’ve also offered up free party/wedding planning services, but no one has taken me up on that.  So until then, I’ll practice my photog skills.

This was my first time (formally) taking pictures of other people.  I was a little nervous at first, but knowing each other for 24 years eased the anxiety.  I also felt better since I included the disclaimer that if they don’t turn out, then at least you still have some time to get them professionally done J  Being a U of I alum, it was tough to look at them, but you can't discriminate against clients, right? Here are two good ones, but I don’t want to spoil their Christmas card!

My sister in law also asked me to do their Christmas pictures this year.  Yay, people think I have talent! I'm honored. Stay tuned for those pictures to come next month!

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Our Little Pumpkin at the Patch

We love family time and want to do as many fun things with Mia as we can.  Hopefully some of them will evolve into traditions.  This weekend we took our little pumpkin to Goebbert’s Pumpkin Farm  in Barrington. 

I heard it can get packed and crazy on the weekends, but there was some light rain in the morning that I think deterred people later in the afternoon.  It wasn’t crowded at all and thankfully it wasn’t wet.  Unlike Bengston’s in Homer Glen which costs over $10 (adults and kids) admission, Goebbert’s was free to roam the grounds.  There may be admission for the activities (pony rides, animals like giraffes and camels, etc), but it’d still be cheaper than Bengston’s.  We didn’t need any of those activities anyways since Mia is still little and probably would end up watching people rather than animals.  We’ll do those things next year when she can run around.  

Bengston's did have awesome pig races, but Goebbert's has them on the weekends too.  Also, the layout at Goebbert's is way better than Bengston’s.  There are so many cute little setups that make for great photo opps. So that’s basically what the trip was…an opportunity for mommy to practice more picture taking J  “Put her here. Ok now here. Get out of the picture! Mia look here!” Mia was a little scared at first when we kept putting her down by herself to take pictures.
Look at all those teeth coming in!
I think she’s at the age where separation anxiety develops.  But then later she enjoyed standing and playing with the pumpkins all by herself.  
mMmmMM pumpkin...
Which one to pick...

Squealing with excitement!

Telling us how much fun she had!

Quiet time...
Getting tired!
So all in all, it was a fun free day at the pumpkin patch. J  We’ll definitely be returning to Goebbert’s instead of Bengston’s. Another bonus was that we stopped at IKEA afterwards. J Check back in next week for our pumpkin carving party!

I could end the pumpkin patch post there, but I <3 food.  So keep reading if you care to hear what we had for dinner…Pork Shoppe.  Thanks to that little picture, we know where ham comes from. Anyway, Doug decided we go with the ½ and ½ with a side of fries and corn on the cob.  It was accompanied with the Tart & Tangy Sauce and the Wicked Spicy Sauce free of charge. As he got in the car, I could smell the smoky deliciousness already.  When I opened the package at home, my hungry eyes complained that this didn’t look like enough food. *rawr*  But after I devoured my half slab of smoky meat, I was full. J Note, the corn on the cob is dinky, but you get a good portion of fries.  Which Doug told me were so good like five times. The Spicy Sauce has a good kick to it and may leave your mouth burning if you consume too much of it. We also ran into our neighbors who say the brisket tacos are good.  We’ll definitely be back to try those.  And since Doug doesn't do well ordering on his own, he liked the simple menu.    

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

DIY - Fleece/Felt Flower Headband

Since Mia was mistaken for a boy the last time she was sporting her Bears gear, it’s time I give the girl some accessories. And although the Jim McMahon look is fitting for the season, I thought the plain headband could be dolled up a little.  I used to think baby headbands were silly, until I got a baby girl of my own!

Monday, October 25, 2010

No Spitting Young Lady!

So I don’t intend for this blog to document all the little things Mia does.  That’s what the journal I bought before she was born was for.  Which remains blank to this day. Kind of like the scrapbook(s) I bought.  But anyway, my memory is not the greatest.  If it’s not written down, or I didn’t take a picture, chances are that moment may easily be forgotten.  So here’s our parenting story for the weekend.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Send Your Baby an Email!

This weekend all the babies (and parents) in our building finally met for a play date.  It was so much fun! I’m glad I could meet our neighbors, get to know everyone a little better and hear how their new parenting lives are going.  Also, winter will be here before we know it and we’ll all be cooped up in the same building.  So might as well get out and enjoy the fall weather together before it’s freezing outside!  

Monday, October 18, 2010

What’s a motto? Nothin’, what’s a motto with you!?

Hakuna Matata! Six months after I bought the tickets, it was finally time to see Lion King! When I got the Broadway in Chicago email back in April about pre-sale tickets for Lion King, I was so excited!  I heard great things and was waiting for it to come back to Chicago.  Doug and I have seen a show every year for the past few years: Wicked, Jersey Boys and Chicago.  I hope I can keep this tradition going until we’re super old J

We started our date night out with dinner at Hub 51.  Here's my review...With reservations at 6pm, there weren’t too many people yet.  But by the time we were done at 7:45, I heard the hostess say it was over an hour wait.  We got seated towards the back and I took the banquette seat with a nice view of the bustling restaurant. Doug was upset he had to look at me all night instead of scoping out the scene for any celebrities.  Apparently Kristin Cavallari and Jay Cutler were spotted here a few weeks ago. 

I already liked the vibe and music but the waitress won me over when we were trying to figure out which bottle of wine to get.  Since I couldn’t decide, she offered to bring us four different ones to taste.  I’ve never been offered that at a restaurant before so I was thoroughly pleased.  I chose the Muscat to accompany our shrimp and king crab sushi roll, braised short rib tacos and halibut with coconut rice.  They hand press their own corn tortillas which I clearly enjoyed as I “stuffed my face” says my husband.  After topping it all off with a brownie and ice cream it was time for Simba!

Overall, I liked the show, but not as much as others.  I just wasn’t entirely into it at some points.  Maybe I couldn’t completely lose myself in it because it’s a Disney story where I’m following the life of a lion, but still.  However, the costumes and set were amazingly creative.  I loved the use of lighting to create dramatic silhouettes, how they created the animals and Pumba.  It’d probably be a great show if I were a kid.  But note to parents, judging from the two sleeping kids next to me, I would spend your money on matinee tickets. 

As always, I enjoyed my date night J What should we see next year?  Les Mis is coming in February!

Friday, October 15, 2010

Perfect Ending - Gelato and a Sunset in Laguna

Since we checked LA off the list on Saturday, we spent Sunday along the coast.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

The Getty Center

Our next stop after lunch (and Babies R Us) was the Getty Center. I didn’t really know what this place was until we got off the tram and walked up the steps.  Then it clicked! I've seen this on Project Runway!  Thanks Bravo/Lifetime for broadening my horizons.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Babies R Us to the Rescue!

This is probably TMI for 99% of you, but it may be helpful to other moms out there.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Tailgate Chili Recipe

Gussy Sews Inspiration Workshop!
Before I left for California, I knew I had to leave Doug with a few meals so he doesn’t starve while caring for our baby.  He requested chili. To eat the entire weekend.

While tailgating at UofI for the Ohio State game a few years ago, Andrea warmed up individually packaged tins of chili on the grill.  It was perfect for a cold day of tailgating. 
Andrea gave me her mom’s recipe and I adapted it a little to make it my own.  Thanks Mrs. Z! I also made a batch for Doug’s Bears/Packers tailgate last year.  His friend said it was better than his dad’s, who is from Texas!  Now that’s a compliment. J

The necessities which serves 8:
3 lbs of ground beef
2 packages of Spicy Chili Mix
1 large can Tomato Sauce
2 cans Tomato Soup
2 cans Diced Tomatoes
1 can Spicy Chili Beans, drained
1 large onion, diced
Spices to taste:
Chili powder
Black pepper
Hot sauce
Serve with:
Club crackers
Cheddar Cheese

Brown the meat. Then drain all the fat.

Toss in the chili mix, all the canned goods and the diced onions.

Add the spices to your liking.  I’m sure chili powder and the chili mix already have all the remaining spices, but I throw some extra in just to feel like I’m contributing to the recipe.  I also like my chili with a good kick, so I definitely add extra pinches of cayenne and dashes of hot sauce.

Give it a good stir and transfer to crock pot.  Set it. And forget it! Is that infomercial still on anymore?  I wouldn’t know, I sleep at 9:30pm.  If you don't have a crock pot, letting it simmer on the stove works too.   I set my crockpot on low for a few hours and give it a good stir every half hour or so. 

I love cheese, so I add some on top and let it melt.  I absolutely must have buttery club crackers to eat alongside it or it's just not the same!

If you'll be taking this along for a tailgate, you can buy some foil/tin mini loaf pans (they come with lids too) which are perfect for individual serving sizes.  Just put them on the grill over indirect heat to warm them up on a cold football afternoon. Be careful when handling the hot tin off the grill though!

If you have way more chili than you can eat in a week, the recipe freezes well too.  Just defrost in the fridge and pop it in a pot when you want it later.

Warning: As tempting as it may be, if you eat the entire batch of chili in one weekend (by yourself), like Doug did, you may feel ill. 

Monday, October 11, 2010

Good Night Chicago - Museum Campus

Auntie Liza bought Mia her first books when she was only a few months old, including Goodnight Chicago.   Now Mia enjoys flipping through the pages of her books before bedtime every night.  Since I enjoyed making a book on blurb for our wedding guest book and love taking pictures of our city, I thought, let’s make Mia her very own Goodnight Chicago book!   So in the next few years as we enjoy our city life, I plan to take pictures of Mia at all the landmarks in her book.  Since the weather has been unseasonably warm lately, we had a family day last week to check a few things off our list. 
 Hello, great Chicago buildings, reaching up into the sky.
 Wow! Look at those dinosaur bones at the Field Museum of Natural History.

Good evening, stargazers at the planetarium.

Good night, Chicago. Sleep tight. I'm pooped.

Can’t wait to take her to more places and to practice shooting!

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Can We Keep Her In Her Bubble?

Hearing stories about suicides resulting from bullying in young kids (and apparently college kids too) in articles such as these, makes me realize yet another way technology completely changed social interactions. 

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Welcome Home!

My best friend/aspiring gypsy returned home yesterday after wandering Europe for 3+ months.  To show Agatha how much we missed her over the summer, we decided to throw her a rather last minute, surprise welcome home party. 

Monday, October 4, 2010

Weekend Recap

Another Monday morning….first I see the bus pass me by.  So I wait for the next one, with no Red Eye because they moved the newspaper box to a corner where there is no bus stop.  No Red Eye Guy at the train station either, bummer.  I bet he didn’t want to stand out there on this 40 degree October morning. Then I see the train pass me by.  So I get on the next train, which is a stinky one.  Bored, with no reading materials. Oh well, at least it was sunny and we had a good weekend J