Sunday, August 28, 2011

Little Luxuries

This weekend hubster and I enjoyed a little bit of luxury before the start of a new school year. It was nice to spend time together before we're back to long work days and ever growing to-do lists.

After hubster reffed a full day of youth football games on Saturday, we went out for a bite to eat and enjoyed a nightcap cocktail at Perennial Virant. I ordered the Honey Dipper (served tall) and hubster got the Rango Tango (served over crushed ice). Well, I did not enjoy the Honey Dipper (too much tomato water), so hubster graciously offered to switch. I have to say, I enjoyed the taste of the tequila in the Rango Tango! We were able to snag an intimate booth by the window...pure fabulosity!

Earlier today, we hopped on a bus and headed downtown to use a scratch off coupon we had from Lettuce Entertain You.  The coupon was for $2.00 off at Water Tower Place - Sacred Grounds coffee shop. We shared a sugar-free blended iced coffee and a double chocolate cupcake. It's the little things.

Afterwards, we hit up the grocery store to pick up just a few items. I've been on this kick for caprese salads and wanted to try making my own version. I like to cut my tomatoes a bit thicker and use a lot of basil. I love basil so much, so I use more of it than what is called for. Whatev... I say BYOC (be your own chef). I was surprised how filling it was. What a healthy dish (much needed after the booze/cupcake/blended coffee combo).

Monday, August 22, 2011

Boat Trip Recap

On Saturday, hubster and I went on a boat with some friends for the Air & Water Show. The trip was, interesting, to say the least.

We arrived at Monroe Harbor around 9:45 am for our 10am departure. Get a load of our tiki boat:

{ aren't we classy? } 
The weather was looking pretty cloudy even before we boarded. We finally left the harbor and it took us about 25 minutes to get out of the harbor and past Navy Pier, towards Oak Street Beach. At this point, it started to lightning but our captain insisted we were okay. "Sail boats are the real ones in trouble" he proclaimed. Well, we noticed more and more boats headed back into the harbor and we were eventually stopped by the Coast Guard. The Coast Guard told us to head back in because a nasty storm was about to hit with 60 mph winds. Holy crap. It wasn't even 5 minutes later and our boat was swaying and the rain was pelting our faces so hard we thought it was hailing. Being the drama queens we are, we all were saying "I love you" because we didn't know what would happen. As scary as it it, my friend Matt had a dream the night before that involved our boat capsizing. Did I mention 2 people on the boat can't swim? 

Our captain was able to position the boat in the playpen area where the water was a bit calmer. We then headed into the Chicago Harbor Lock to wait out the storm. The storm let up, but it continued to rain off and on for a few hours. We ended up going up and down the Chicago River for a while.

We were soaking wet and cold from the torrential downpour. At least we had a lot of this:

This made it all better.  = )

At around 1:30 pm (4.5 hours after our departure), the weather finally cleared up for good and the sun came out! We anchored the boat about 1,000 feet off shore near the Adler Planetarium and swam around Lake Michigan (one item off my bucket list!).

I got a little bit of sun, had a crazy good time with some friends and marked a few things off my bucket list.

Sunday, August 21, 2011


One thing I vow to do starting this fall (well, starting now), is to prep my week's menu on Sunday afternoons. I'm going to start making larger dinners so hubster and I can take leftovers for lunch during the week. Lately I've been eating PB&Crunchy J for lunch, but I would much rather heat up a nice meaty dish from dinner.

So, here is the menu that we will be enjoying this week:

Pork Medallions with sweet potatoes

Lunch: Sunday night leftovers
Dinner: Ground Turkey Chili (Go Bears!)

Lunch: Chili leftovers
Dinner: Chicken Stir Fry w/ Rice

Lunch: Stir fry left overs
Dinner: Cola Pork Chops

Lunch: Pork Chop leftovers
Dinner: Homemade Carmelized Onion & Goat Cheese Pizza (boss' recipe)

Friday is a freebie day. What are you eating this week?

Time to Get Serious...

This post is not about food, shopping or a boating trip. I'm taking this post to share a very important lesson I learned a few weeks ago. Stick with me....

My parents always said, "Save a little, spend a little." I had a job from the moment I turned 16 because I had to pay my own car insurance ($60 per month for my cute little red LeBaron Convertible) and gas money. I also knew that I had to save money to live on once I went to college. To say the least, I've always been a saver.

Flash forward 10 years. I'm now married and own a 1 bedroom condo in Chicago. We continue to save for a rainy day, or in this case, a nasty thunderstorm.

About 1 month ago, our air conditioning unit stopped working at the start of the hottest week Chicago has ever seen. With humidity, temperatures soared upwards of 115 degrees. There was no way we could go without air conditioning. I don't know the first thing about AC units, so I turned to Twitter for a bit of advice. I asked my followers who live in Chicago for a recommendation for an AC company. @carolyngolz responded with 2 companies. I had 3 companies come out and give us a quote (not an easy took 3 full days!). Ultimately, we chose a company that had great reviews and seemed very trustworthy, which they were (thank you Carolyn! We used Four Seasons!).

Replacing an entire AC unit is not cheap. In fact, the total bill was $3,480.00. I had a mini panic attack that I was about to fork over nearly $3,500 just to stop sweating (literally). Just a few weeks earlier, Hubster and I agreed to start saving for a trip to Europe since neither one of us have ever been out of the country. Well, our Euro trip fund just went to Four Seasons AC.

The moral of the story is save, save, save! My dad asked me if we needed to borrow money to pay for the AC and I was super proud when I told him we had enough money in savings to pay for it and not stretch ourselves thin.

According to Time Money Land and @MoneyUnder30 , 64% of Americans don't have $1,000 in their savings accounts. To me, this is a crazy scary statistic. I know there are a lot of economic factors that have led to this. The point I am trying to make is do not under estimate the importance of stocking away money. I am thankful that I learned the value of saving early on in my life.

Friday, August 19, 2011

On a Boat! Again!

Tomorrow is the Chicago Air & Water Show and usually I head out of town because I can't stand all the tourists and the sound of the jets. BUT, this year is different. This year I'll be watching the Air & Water Show from... A BOAT on LAKE MICHIGAN!

Woot, woot!

For the past week, I've had the Lonely Island song stuck in my head. You know, I'm on a Boat! 

There's one catch. I won't be jet setting at 5 knots on this:

Hell, I won't even be on one of these...

Instead, my very classy friends and I will be cruising around Lake Michigan on this:

Yep. That's a tiki pontoon boat. To quote my friend Liz, "It's a white trash floating living room". At least it has a slide off the back in case the last of the summer sun is a bit too hot!

Yes, a luxury liner would be just so fabulous, but it's still a boat and I'm going to be on it! So, as Tosh.O would say....Nanabooboostickyourheadindoodoo

Thursday, August 18, 2011

OOTD - Girly Western?

OOTD - Outfit of the Day ... not to be mistaken for OOTN - Outfit of the Night

I've been following a few new fashion blogs for a couple weeks and I've fallen in love with Kendi Everyday. It turns out, she and I are the same age and I really like her eclectic style. I've tried to take some pointers from her and haven't put on a cardigan in months (per the request of Hubster... I need to branch out).

A while back, Hubster picked out a blue and white checkered shirt from Gap for me and said I would look sorta hipster in it. Today, I wanted to wear the shirt, but I had to dress it up somehow because jeans are evil (according to a very important person... boo!).

Here's what I'm sporting today...

I dressed up the shirt by tucking it into black dress pants from Loft and a dark tan belt. I likey!

p.s. I, too, think it's creepy I took a pic of myself in the bathroom mirror. You're not alone. But, you gotta do what you gotta do.

Monday, August 15, 2011

5 Ingredient Fix

Do you watch the Food Network show '5 Ingredient Fix'? If not, you need to start! Claire Robinson creates tasty dishes with only 5 ingredients. Some ingredients are freebies, things that are considered kitchen staples like salt/pepper, olive oil, etc.

On my walk home from work tonight, I tried to figure out what I should cook for dinner. I wanted to use the cherry tomatoes that I just bought the night before, but I still had no clue what to make.

After staring in my pasta cabinet for 5 minutes, I decided to make my very own version of a 5 Ingredient Fix. I called it Pasta Italiana!

  • pasta (I used small bow tie)
  • minced garlic (I keep a jar in's faster and easier than chopping fresh)
  • cherry tomatoes
  • parmesan cheese 
  • lemon
  • EVOO
  • salt
  • pepper

Cook your desired amount of pasta to al dente. Meanwhile, saute cherry tomatoes cut in half in a swirl of EVOO. Season with salt and pepper.

In a small bowl, whisk 1/2 cup EVOO, 1/2 lemon and garlic to taste.

Slowly drizzle dressing over your cooked pasta, tasting until you have your desired amount (it's all based on your preference....BYOC=be your own chef). Add sauteed cherries and top with a little bit of parmesan cheese. Voila! Simple, fast and delicious.

Monday, August 8, 2011

New School Year Prep

My favorite time of year is just around the corner!

Over the weekend I found myself perusing the school supply aisle, dreaming about highlighters and post-it notes. I could walk the aisles all day and my excitement level would never cease. 

There are a few things I always do to prepare for a new school year...

  • Buy candy for my desk candy jar
  • Buy a 'first-day' outfit (keep your eye out for a special post!)
  • Buy a lipstick that makes me feel like I can do anything 
  • Get a 'first week' manicure
  • Get a haircut

This weekend I'll be hitting the Pleasant Prairie Outlet Mall in Wisconsin to hopefully score a good deal on some work clothes. I'm in serious need of new dress pants! 

Until then, I'm trying to decide what kind of haircut/color I want to get in 2 weeks. I haven't decided on a color (probably something with dark honey for fall). Instead, I've been focusing on what kind of cut to get. I've been growing out my hair for at least 1 year and I love the length, but it's getting to be a bit too much. I'm ready for an actual style. 

I'm thinking this cut with a darker color...

I like that it's still a bit long, but short enough to actually have a defined cut. Plus, I need to be able to put my hair in a ponytail for when I sweat it out at the gym. 

If any ladies are looking for a great stylist in Chicago, I recommend Brittany at Robert Jeffrey - Lakeview. I've been going to her for 3 years and I always leave happy! Plus, their window displays are amazing! It's nice to have something pretty to look at while you're getting your hair done. Also, if you pre-book your next appointment, you'll get 10% off... every time. 

What do you do to prepare for a new school year? 

Wednesday, August 3, 2011


Remember when I wrote a post about a giveaway once I reached 15 followers? If not, check it out here. Back in February (yes, nearly 6 months ago), I said I would have a giveaway featuring one of my favorite items featured in the blog post.

Now, based on my Google analytics, I know I have more than 15 regular readers. I'm not here to push people into being an official 'follower' of my blog. In fact, it might very well be another 2 months before I actually hit 15 followers.

But I promise you, when I do, I will do the giveaway!

What will it be? A package full of my favorite time of year items (school supplies!!) or a tervis tumbler with some samples of my favorite beverages? = )

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Tortilla Pizzas

Here is a recipe I tried a few weeks ago and I couldn't believe how fast and easy it was. It's simple...toritlla pizzas.

9 inch tortilla shells (bonus points for whole grain/whole wheat)
1/2 cup spaghetti sauce per tortilla (I prefer Barilla brand)
shredded cheese (kind and amount is up to you)
toppings to your desire!

  • Spray each tortilla with a little bit of spray butter or brush lightly with olive oil.
  • Add 1/2 cup spaghetti sauce to each torilla
  • Add cheese
  • Add toppings
  • Cook in the oven at 425 degrees until cheese is bubbly (approx. 5-6 minutes)

Allow each pizza to sit for a few minutes and use a pizza cutter to slice them into manageable pieces. Enjoy!