Tag Archives: relationship

Marvelous Monday: Hot Dogs, Museum, and a Luxury Hotel

Living in a relatively small city immediately after graduation was (and still is) a big shock to me. It’s not because of the different types of people and it’s not even because I’m far from home, it’s the lack of variation! I realized it when I was walking around Chicago this weekend. No one stares at me because I have short hair and am wearing a gorgeous red coat. I know this sounds hyperbolic but I’m totally serious. I’ve found myself toning down my level of “urban” and it wasn’t until this weekend that I fully realized it.

Needless to say, it was wonderfully liberating to be in Chicago again this weekend. I met my best friend in the entire world, Sarah. She flew from North Carolina to meet me and, of course, it was epic. Somehow, when we get together, we manage to find the most incredible deals on some really swanky experiences. So instead of writing it all down, I’ll show you some photos!

*Credit to Sarah for most of the photos. Pick them out by spotting the good ones.*

Day One:

858717_10100863993292329_723608124_o^ This restaurant is called the Pump Room (in the Public Hotel). Before we got here, Sarah found a voucher for a gourmet meal on GiltCity.com. Mixology cocktails, tuna tartare, apple and brie toast,  lobster ravioli, and a caramel corn salted sundae. We ate until midnight and then collapsed in our hotel room.

Day Two:

We obviously had to see The Bean (cloudgate). This is by far my favorite monument in any city that I’ve seen. It is really a gorgeous shape and it brings together every view of the inside of the city. Also, it’s REALLY fun to take pictures with it.

IMG_0978 IMG_0980 861263_10100863991935049_1308797794_o

We both felt like absorbing a little culture (and keeping out of the freezing weather outside) so we checked out the Art Institute. The building was very beautiful and the exhibits were right up our alley (they even had one of Studio Gang Architects).

856282_10100863992154609_1905054874_o

IMG_0991 IMG_0987 538116_10100863992977959_803518297_n

Then we ditched the cultural stuff and headed about 15 minutes outside the city to Hot Dougs. This place serves the most unbelievable hot dog I’ve ever seen. We checked out the reviews online and decided on the following: Duck dog with foie gras and truffle aoili, rabbit dog with ricotta cheese and raspberry preserves, 2 normal dogs with all the toppings, and cheese fries.

We had to wait outside in 20°F for ONE HOUR to even get inside this place. It was packed. But once we did order, it was pretty affordable and the dogs were to die for. The only time Sarah and I are ever quiet is when we are hungry and when we are mowing down food like this.

IMG_1022 ^ We even got to meat (haha) Doug himself!

IMG_1023IMG_1024IMG_1025

That night we stayed in and enjoyed our most luxurious hotel room and some deep dish pizza.

IMG_1028 859444_10100863992384149_977572020_o

This hotel room needs some further explanation. As I mentioned, Sarah and I find the most amazing bargains. I found this hotel room at Swisshotel (they are usually upwards of $200) for $110 a night on Bookit.com. It was SO worth the effort. This place was so nice that we WANTED to stay in and enjoy it. I took photos of the tiny details so you would understand.

IMG_1030 ^ Bedside table: light switches for the whole room, an alarm clock AND ipod player, and outlets on the lamp. Perfection.

IMG_1039

^ A CLEAN tub and a shower. Also, please note the phone next to the toilet. If you’re wondering, of course I used it.

IMG_1035

^ When the maids came in, they straightened up our shoes and toiletries and the room was sparkling.

IMG_1031^ There was a Keurig coffee maker with free K-cups. And wine glasses and bottle openers. These people knew we were coming.

We spent Sunday chatting and doing some shopping (aka bargain hunting) before Sarah had to fly out. It was MUCH too short of a stay but absolutely wonderful all the same. There’s nothing like the company of your best girlfriend 🙂

Thankful Tuesday: Back to Real Life

WineforDinner

I had an incredible weekend. It was full of family and friends that I haven’t seen in a long time. But also lots of rugby, gambling, no exercise, and eating and drinking whatever my heart desires. Mike and I went to Las Vegas for 3 days to meet my family and watch the Rugby Sevens tournament. I went last year too and plan on continuing the tradition for as long as possible.

When I go on vacation, I go all out (yep, wine for dinner was a reality this weekend). It gets all the bad habits out of my system and lets me return to real life thoroughly exhausted and ready to be 100% healthy again.

So obviously I don’t have a new recipe for today since every meal I ate for the last 4 days was from a restaurant but I would like to bring back Thankful Tuesdays.

So on this lovely day in February, I am thankful for:

  1. A job that earns me enough money to travel to places like Vegas for the weekend but also gives me the flexible schedule to do it.

Vegas22. The family that makes a priority out of traveling to meet each other and party.

Vegas3

3. The boyfriend that comes with me and makes it all even more fun.

Instead of having holiday blues, maybe I’ll try to remember how amazing it is that I have these experiences in the first place. You think?

What are you thankful for today?

Gossip Ruins People

Gossip

If you don’t have something nice to say, just zip that trap. We all heard that line (or some variation of it) when we were little. Every one of us has been the subject of gossip at some point in their lives. You know how much it hurts. So here’s the big questions:

WHY DO WE STILL DO IT?

I laid awake for much of the night wondering that. Just before I fell asleep, I found out that there are people who I barely know, in this brand new town of mine, gossiping about me. Rash, hurtful words that pinned me at my most vulnerable point.

Gossip Law #1: Even for me, strong, capable, confident me, words DO hurt. I learned this long ago in middle school and, ever since, I’ve realized that I don’t want to cause that pain to anyone else. It doesn’t matter how much I criticize them internally, everyone has weaknesses just like me, and I never want to make someone feel that that’s all I see.

Gossip Law #2: As much as we whisper and make people promise not to tell, the words ALWAYS get back to the person. This most recent gossip about me started in September. September! I heard it two night ago from a well-intentioned friend that was trying to help me become a better person. He was trying to help me and the fact that people talked STILL hurt.

Gossip Law #3: It doesn’t stop when we turn 16 years old, or 20, or even 35. It never just stops. It’s natural for people to talk negatively about others. It makes them feel powerful, like they have an advantage on you. Like they’re better than you. It’s natural, but it sucks and it can be stopped.

Gossip Law #4: It comes in all forms. Gossip doesn’t just have to be a woman whispering trash into another woman’s ear. As I’ve tried to cut it out of my life, I realize that gossip is any negative statement that emerges from your mouth about another person. Anything that, when you really think about it, could potentially hurt that person.

LISTEN UP. This is the most important one . . .

Gossip Law #5: It CAN be stopped. The only way to stop gossip is by filtering your own words. I have a best friend. My heterosexual life partner. She is the only person that I turn off the filter with. She does the same with me. We gossip to each other until kingdom come. But that is because we KNOW that it will never leave that conversation. With everyone else, my negative words are on lockdown. I don’t participate in negative conversations and will even try to stop them if they become about someone I love.

Everyone can do this. It only took me a few months to recognize and learn. So just try it, please. For the sake of all those people who you have yet to hurt.

Now off with you, have a wonderful, gossip-free weekend! I will be in Vegas with my family and friends through Monday so blogs will start back up on Tuesday. I will miss you all until then. But just remember:

KEEP CONVERSATION POSITIVE 🙂

 

Fun Times Friday: Lunch Date and Line Dancing!

Happy Friday everyone! You made it. Since you’re coming up on some blissful rest days, I thought I’d give you a few ideas for a day out. Here in Illinois, it’s bitterly cold; last Saturday we had a heat wave when it got up to 45°F. Mike and I are beginning to get cabin fever couped up inside all day long. So since, it was my date day last Saturday, I got us out and around town as much as possible. All while staying under a budget.

First we picked up lunch from a wonderful little bakery/caterer/deli in Peoria. It’s called the Cracked Pepper and they had pepper grinders everywhere!

CrackedPepper1

CrackedPepper2

These were my favorites. Isn’t the gold so pretty?

Riverfront

Then, because the sun was out, we drove down to the Peoria waterfront and ate our lunch on a bench outside. We bundled up so we wouldn’t freeze and it was so wonderful to just sit in the sun. And cheap!

Then, ever the scavengers for cheap activities, we headed to the Caterpillar Visitors Museum to check out all the big machines Mike helps build. He gets in for free and I only cost $7. Sweet! Keep a lookout for student, senior, employee deals in your area to save yourself some dough. You can find out events and discounts in local (free) papers and handouts in newspaper stands.

Catmuseum2

I lost track of what all the machines were called… But they’re cool! And Mike helps make them 🙂

CatMuseum1

This is the WHEEL of the biggest truck made, ever, in the world. It’s used for mining and the bed of it is 35 feet wide. In the museum, they fit a movie theater in it. So sweet.

Catmuseum3

The simulator driver things. I had really wanted to get my operators license until I tried this thing. Mike was awesome. Me, not so good. Lol.

Then that night…drumroll please…we went line dancing! What?? I never really thought about it but, of course, line dancing in the midwest is the real deal. It was about 20 minutes from our house in a real barn called Stone Country Saloon. There was a massive dance floor and tons of locals (none of them wearing plaid oddly enough). It turns out that when I get a couple beers in me, I’m really pretty good at line dancing. I pick up the moves like a champ. By the end, I had people coming up and teaching me the steps. I guess that’s normal in these places but I felt privileged.

Linedancing2

Mike stayed at the bar to watch most of the time but jumped in when he felt he could do it. Isn’t it weird how much more nervous to mess up men are when it comes to dancing? Maybe it’s their lack of hips. I don’t know.

Linedancing1

But I’m in love. I’m going back this weekend. I want to get to know the patrons there. And the awesome saloon owner, Dan. And I WILL get good at line dancing before leaving the midwest.

On top of all this wonderfulness, the cover on a Saturday is $7 (a little steep) but the beers were $3 (makes everything ok).

What are some sweet deals you’ve found in your area? I hope you have a fantastic weekend!

Friendly Friday: Thank You Technology

Once upon a time there was a group of five girlfriends. They were all gnarly and raced bikes together. When they got off the bikes they would sit down for pizza and a beer and laugh for hours and hours. Then these girls graduated from college and spread across the country like lighting bolts, forever changing the points they touched down in. They spread to be teachers in Boston, medical students in North Carolina, nurses in Colorado, bike marketers and women’s activists in California, and holistic health advocates in Illinois.

Every so often, thanks to some sweet technology, they actually get to reunite and laugh together again. Check out Once a Month’s blog to see how easy it is to keep in touch. Reunite with the old and wonderful friends in your life.

Once a Month: Coming Together While Miles Apart

Screen Shot 2013-01-24 at 8.37.08 PM Screen Shot 2013-01-24 at 8.36.28 PM Screen Shot 2013-01-24 at 8.37.41 PM

My friends are amazing. This is going to happen much more often from now on. I love and miss them so incredibly much but they’re all doing so well in life. They brighten my day 🙂

 

Happy Monday: Weird Love

Saturday was a VERY long day of work for me. Let’s just say I was surrounded by screaming kids in a room with lots of echo. For NINE hours. Teachers: how do you do it?? Anyway! It meant that Sunday involved a whole lot of nothing. Mike and I watched both NFL playoff games and some really terrible television (my favorite kind).

We also had some spare time to talk about our relationship. We do that every once in a while. Just dive into what we think we’re doing well or what is missing for one or both of us. Of course we talked about some stuff that has been a work in progress for the last several months. But we also talked about how close we feel to each other having had to adapt to in this foreign environment: small town in Midwestern USA.

Being here has only increased our love and respect for each other and confidence in our relationship. The way we are learning to work through our relationship and personal problems is pretty awesome.

On that note, Mike sent me this the other day and I think it’s wonderful. Maybe you will too!

WeirdLove

 

I hope that wherever the love comes from in your life, that you’re getting a lot of it today. Happy Monday! 🙂

 

Fun Times Friday: Date Night Creativity

If you’ve been following this blog for a bit, you know that Mike and I go on a date every Saturday night. Each week we switch off planning and paying for them and, if possible, we make it a surprise. So last week was mine and, considering I’m on a VERY tight budget I’ve had to get pretty creative with what we do. My budget most weeks is about $25 for both of us. How the heck do I figure that out??

Well if you keep an eye out for free events going on in your town, you never know what you’ll find! There’s a nice, upper class area called Peoria Heights that I drive through every once in a while and I saw a sign for “Chocolate in the Heights.” You know those signs that you tend to ignore because you’re just too busy going about your day? This was one of those. But since I’ve come to realize my not awesome financial state, I’ve started actually looking at those signs! There was no description of what it was, just that it was the next Saturday (yes!) from 10am-5pm. I did a little searching and found a slightly more detailed poster for the event.

chocmap2012brochure

Using my deductive reasoning, I assumed that each boutique and shop on the main street would have some kind of deal on chocolate and/or something free to offer. Done and done!

As usual, I planned to take him to this event and then bring him home and cook a nice, sit-down meal for us both.

I kept it a surprise until we parked in the Heights and let’s just say Mike looked less than excited. However! I kept the energy going. I gave us $15 to spend on chocolate and whatever else we wanted and, because I had to work late, we had an hour to do it.

It ended up being REALLY fun. Of course we only took one picture because I was too excited to remember to take more. But we discovered a whole street of awesome shops we didn’t know were there: an oil and vinegar shop with about 30 different types of gourmet vinegar (cool!) and a few more specialty shops with random but also really unusual knick-knacks. We got some great gift ideas for Christmas.

photo-3

^ Yep, I look like I’ve just discovered gold.

We used this as our food vacation day and got lots of delectable treats. Free stuff we indulged in: chocolate fountain (see above), chocolate pretzel clusters, oil and vinegar samples, cheese, wine, beer, and chocolate cupcakes. With our $15 we bought an amazing triangle of cheese, a bar of specialty chocolate, and some Pear Balsamic Vinegar. And we had such a good time scoping out the options and then going back to the shops to purchase what we wanted.

So it’s possible! To have a few hours of fun and still stick to your budget. You just have to keep an eye out for free things around your town.

Happy Friday everyone! 🙂