Friday, December 31, 2010

Favorite Things Friday

Favorite Things Friday

Favorite Chicago Bars..

So I have been to a few bars in Chicago..and here are a few that I just keep on going back to for their beer, ambiance, and beer.

Cork and Kerry.  Western Avenue favorite.  Went here for the Big 21, and keep going back.  Took my friend Sarah here for a Bears game not too long ago..good times!
Billy Goat.  Where else in Chicago can you go, drink some Schlitz on tap, get a great burger, and pet a live goat?  Hands down awesome.
Hub 51.  And not just because one of my best friends works here!  Went here for brunch last Super Bowl Sunday.  It may have to be a tradition.  Best breakfast sandwiches, bloody mary's, and is just a pretty cool place to be any time of day.
Goose Island.  Great Beer, great burgers..but mostly great beer.  Love both locations!
Signature Lounge, John Hancock.  Whenever I have friends in town, I take them here.  Best view of the city, and uber strong martinis. 

Andy, Ellen, Me, Katie at Hub 51 after the Dining In

Me and Sarah at Cork and Kerry..Bears!!

Col, Me, Best Beer Man Ever, Jen at the Billy Goat.  Awful Photo, but you can tell we were having fun and a bit of Schlitz.

Julie, Liz, Me at the Signature Lounge. 

Ellen, Jon, Me at Goose Island.  Saying goodbye to the awesome Chaps!

Thursday, December 30, 2010


I went to Washington State for a couple of days to visit my oldest brother and his family.  Love visiting and being Auntie Mega-Mega (nickname I got because S couldn't say Megan).  They live about 2 hours away from Seattle proper via car, a little closer via ferry.  My brother and I took the ferry one day to Pike Place Market, to look around and explore.  He hadn't taken the ferry or gone to Seattle yet, and we wanted to check it out before they went and had a few kids in tow. 

I never realized how rainy Washington was until I got there.  They always say, rain rain rain.  They were right.  I saw sunlight for a whole 10 minutes in 6 days.  How depressing. 

Here are a few great photos I took from that day!!

Start of the Ferry Ride

Love this Market..fresh seafood!


Bought some salmon, crab, halibut..

Love this Raspberry Lambic

10 minutes of sunshine

Wine I bought to go with the halibut.  Yum!!

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Happy Birthday!!!

To me!  I have to say, I usually hate my birthday because most folks forget about it being so close to Christmas.  The joys of being a Christmas baby :)  The past couple of years have been great because one of my brothers and my SIL take me out for dinner and just relax.  My favorite tradition from Birthday past was when my family and I would grab breakfast at this restaurant called the Golden Shell (South East Side of Chicago).  It is closed now, but I hear that the kids of the owners opened up a place in Indiana.  I may have to try it out.  It was a family style breakfast..just platefuls of amazing breakfast food!  It was nice to sit around that place, relax, and just have some seriously amazing food. 

Looking forward to a low key day and a 312 after work! Although I just had this in Seattle, and must find it in Chicago.

Monday, December 27, 2010


I travelled to Washington to visit my oldest brother on the 23rd.  It has been a whirlwind of kids games, wii, cooking, etc the entire time.  Love these two kids!!  They are so smart, and got so big over the past year. 

I have a feeling I will be coming back to Chicago with tons of yummy recipes from my SIL and her mom.  I can't wait to make her pepper steak and barley soup!

Will write more and post photos when I get to back to Chicago!!

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Merry Christmas!!!

Merry Christmas from Seattle!  I'll be visiting family here, spending time with two of the cutest kids in the world. 
I have spent the past few Christmas's all over the world.  2006-Hawaii, 2007-Oman, 2008-San Diego, 2009-Yokohama, 2010-Seattle. 

Hoping that today looks a little like this...

Thomas Kinkade

I love Thomas Kinkade.  Someday I will actually splurge and buy one or two of his paintings.  They are simply amazing.

Friday, December 24, 2010

Favorite Things Friday

Favorite places I have visited!  I have been around the world and back a few times with my travels on my own, and with the Navy.  I want to go back to each of these places again, along with some other places I want to visit!

My top 5 are:
1.      Dubai.  I went here twice, and would gladly fly back on my own.  The resorts, shopping, and food were amazing!  Dubai Mall was a cool attraction, complete with its own ski slope inside.  I wouldn’t recommend it, but it is a sight to see! The best part of the trip was a day at Wild Wadi Water Park.  Most of the ship went there multiple times. Best.Waterslides.Ever! I stayed at the Dubai Beach Marine Resort and Spa.  Quite possibly the nicest hotel I have ever stayed at.  Beautiful. 

2.      Rome.  I have been here twice, and loved each trip.  I have been to Italy five times, and Rome is just an amazing city.  So much history, so much beauty, and who can forget the food?  I will never forget the little pizzeria near the Colosseum.  I go there every time I visit!

3.      Paris.  I lived here the summer after I completed my freshman year of college.  I studied a history class here, and had my own apartment.  We travelled throughout the country, and I have to say my favorite parts were visiting the art museums, and Normandy.  The art museums such as the Louvre, are so huge, I would go after class and look at the art again and again.  Normandy was just simply breathtaking.  To walk on the same beaches and traverse near the concertina wire still standing there, so many years later…words can’t do it justice.

4.      Napa Valley, California.  Wine, wine, wine.  I was here for a day, and want to go back! 

5.      Yokohama.  I went here last year to visit my brother at Christmas.  Got to see some great things, and discover my love for Chu-hi.  I would love to go back again in the spring to see the cherry blossoms..and someday climb Mount Fuji!

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Always Love a Good Deal..

So I am notorious at work for being "the girl who knows where to get a deal in Chicago" and "where to go in Chicago".  I live in the Windy City, but don't work here..and have a helluva commute every day, which is worth it!

I look at a few different websites every day (seems crazy I know, but I love to save money on stuff I do, or stuff I'd like to do).

My all time favorite is Groupon.  I have gotten so many good deals from them, what's not to love?  Cubs Rooftop tickets (uber cheap), 1/2 off at restaurants, $25 for $50 of clothes at the Gap, so on and so on.  Their deals are good for one day only, which is why I check it first thing in the am.  This way I don't miss out on anything.  So sometimes my friends get early morning texts asking if they are game for a rooftop game.  Sorry!!!  But I don't want to miss out on saving so much money on something so awesome.  By the way, if you haven't gone to a rooftop game, you are missing out.  I should put that on my bucket list even though I have been to 2, but I could always go to one more?!?

I also check out Tippr, Living Social, and You Swoop.  These websites aren't Chicago-centric, although You Swoop is. 

I bet you can find one thing you could use every week from one of these sites.  Now I am just trying to use up my restaurant vouchers.  Anyone want to do lunch or dinner at Berghoff?!?


Wednesday, December 22, 2010


I found this cartoon..and had to share.  Such a sad year in the city of Chicago.  Many brave men and women-Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen, Marines, CoastGuardsmen, Policemen, Firemen, Paramedics..they come from this wonderful city, protect this city and this country.  Many have made the ultimate sacrifice in the line of duty.

No matter what, everyone when they read the Chicago Tribune, or the Chicago Suntimes..turn on the news..  they hear about the brave sacrifices that these men and women make every day.  Sometimes we go about our business, other times we really look at it and go..."That brave officer was my neighbor" or maybe "That young man went to school with me".  Yes, it does hit that close to home for most Chicagoans.  That is why so many band together when tragedy hits.  They stop, say a prayer, and really reflect on what is important, and realize how grateful they are.  We truly are the Greatest City in the world. 

I had to share this with you, so you know that during this holiday season, there are many people standing the watch, patrolling the streets, fighting fires, saving lives, patrolling the desert, so we may enjoy our freedoms day to day. 

via Chicago Tribune

Prayers for the CFD

The Chicago Fire and Police Departments have had a tragic year.  6 police officers have died/been killed in the line of duty, and there was an awful fire today that has claimed the lives of 2 firemen so far.

Please keep Chicago's Finest in your thoughts and prayers.  These men and women keep the city I know and love safe every day.

via Google

Easy Edible Gift!

So each year for the holidays I feel like there are a million people in my building that I have to "give" gifts to.  There is an office staff, maintenance staff, concierge, and the valet.  I love them all, which is why I signed a lease at my building in the first place..the people are great! 

I have been thinking about how busy I have been, and how I haven't been able to bake, assemble fun treats, etc for these folks.

Last night I found a great recipe, and I am going to try it out tonight! 

Easy Pretzel Turtles from

small pretzels
Rolo candies
Pecan halves

Yup.  That's it.  3 ingredients. 

First you put the pretzels on a baking sheet covered in wax paper or foil.  Then you put a Rolo on the center of each pretzel.  Put them in a preheated over at 350 degrees for a few minutes, they should still look like a Rolo!  Take them out, and put a pecan in the center.  Yup..its that easy!!

Can't wait to see how these turn out!!

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Texas Caviar...damn good salsa!

I first had this salsa at a tailgate in Annapolis last November.  I looked around for some similar recipes, and I tried it twice last week.  Soooo soo good.

Texas Caviar Recipe 1

5 Medium Tomatoes - chopped
2 Green Onions - sliced thin
1 Big Bunch of Cilantro
1 Avocado - chopped
1 Can of Corn - drained & rinsed
1 Can of Blackeyed Peas - drained & rinsed
1 Package Good Seasonings Italian Dressing - Add in Dry as is

Stir together, chill, serve with chips of choice.  I used about 1.5 packages of the dressing for some extra kick!  got this  from

Texas Caviar Recipe 2

2 Cans of black eyed peas-drained and rinsed
1 Can original Rotel
2 Medium sized avocados
1 Large green bell pepper
1/2 Large red onion
1 Lime
3/4 Cup Zesty Italian dressing

Chop onion, pepper, avacados, mix with black eyes peas, tomatoes.  Squeeze one lime in, and mix the dressing.  got this from inthiswonderfullife :)

I haven't tried this recipe yet, but am looking forward to it! Both sounds so amazing..and are great as appetizers for any party. 

Monday, December 20, 2010

Another holiday party...

This Christmas season has been filled with many holiday parties..all a ton of fun. I am super tired, but there is more shopping to be done, baking to be completed, and people to see.  Not to mention travel!

We had a work party Friday night, which is always a great time every year.  Good food, good people, and of course, our crazy gift exchange. 

Andy, Me, Gabe

Love these ladies! Gale, Me, Karina

Chicago Bucket List

Ellen and I were talking the other day, and since we are both leaving Chicago soon, we said we had to come up with a bucket list.  Here is mine!

Go to a Bears Game September 27,2010  Bears vs Greenbay.
Eat a burger at Kuma's corner
Have a hot dog at Hot Doug's
Enjoy a Schlitz at Billy Goat Tavern
Go to the Art Institute on a day off just because I can January 17, 2011
Eat lunch at the Berghoff January 17, 2011
Go to a Fire Game May 27, 2010
Take a photography class January 26, 2011.  Still want to take more!
Go to a Cubs Game too many to list!
Run a 5K in the city I ran the Run To Remember on April 30, 2011.  Running the Soldier Field 10 miler May 28th!
Have dinner at Girl and the Goat
Have a drink at Cork and Kerry around Saint Patrick's day Drinks with Tara!
Go to the Museum of Science and Industry
Go to the John Hancock for drinks or dinner
Have some great burgers at Frankie ScallopinesDecember 17,2010
Have brunch at Wilde April 16, 2011
Go to a Bulls Game
Have brunch at Ann Sather
Go on an architecture boat tour
Go to Lincoln Park zoo
Go on a Frank Lloyd Wright Tour
Go to a Hawks Game December 15, 2010
See Blueman Group
See an Opera February 15, 2011

I will probably be adding to this..but if you see something I may have missed, let me know!!

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Chicago Christmas!

I had an appointment downtown on Friday, so I took a few pictures on my route.  Not many, but the best ones were at Holy Name Cathedral.

Water Tower
Holy Name Cathedral

Holy Name Cathedral

Blackhawks and SSG Giunta

I went to the Blackhawks game with Ellen and her family on Wednesday.  I was an honorary member of their family once again.  Thank you!

Best part of the game, was the honoring of Medal of Honor recipient SSG Salvatore Giunta at the game.  If you have ever been to a home Hawks game at the United Center, you know that the National Anthem is the highlight of the game.  Jim Cornelison sings at ever game, and it gives me goosebumps every time.  Simply amazing. 

Love the warm ups..

SSG Giunta at center..should have seen the standing ovation!

Ellen and Me

Token self portrait :)

Left, Right, Center

Madhouse on Madison.  Love the UC!

Friday, December 17, 2010

Favorite Things Friday

So onto more favorite things that I have found...

I always get questions on what shampoo I use...I am notorious for having a bathroom stocked with shampoo, conditioner, bubble bath, hair product, etc.  I always buy whatever they use on my hair at the saloon, and yes, it is that good!

1. Favorite Bubble Bath.  I know this isn't shampoo, but I found this in a magazine, and it is amazing.  I usually buy it at Whole Foods.
2.Bumble and Bumble Shampoo and Conditioner  They use this at the saloon I go to, and I fell in love.
3. Bumble and Bumble Prep Bought this as well, although I have to say that someone else uses it more than I do;)
4. Dry Shampoo  One of my favorite finds to freshen up my hair in between washes.
5. Soap!  I walked into Lush one day and found this soap.  I have only used this soap since!

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Leaving Chicago..

Next Summer.  I got an email this morning..which definitely added to the stress I wrote about yesterday.  I will be leaving Chicago most likely in July, to embark on my next adventure.

On the bright side..I got my Christmas cards in the mail!!!

Stay tuned..I find out in a month where this new adventure will take me!

Let's hope it is somewhere warm!!

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Christmas Spirit..

So it just hit me today that Christmas is in..well..11 days.  I went to the dentist, and the woman who cleaned my teeth asked me if I was ready.  Then I realized...nope.  Not even close.  I haven't shopped yet, made food for 3 pot lucks in the next couple of days yet, sent out Christmas cards yet, the list just goes on. 

I have been so swamped, stressed with work that I haven't even taken the time ro realize what I haven't done. 

This seems to happen to me every year before the holidays, I get super swamped, and finally get in the Christmas spirit when I get to my holiday destination.  Last year, it was Japan..and I loved every minute of it.  Now, to get my butt in gear to get ready for next week!  First stop..getting those Christmas cards in the mail!!

The Real Christmas Spirit

Via Google Images

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Party all the time..

I have had 4 parties to attend in the past week :)  A lot of parties, but a lot of fun!!

The first party was a baby shower for two dear friends of mine.  I have known them forever, and they will be welcoming a beautiful baby girl to their home soon!

The happy couple!  Can't wait to meet Gwen!

The next party I went to was the first of 2 work parties.  The Command party is a place where people let their hair down so to I left a wee bit early.

3's company.  Andy, Me, Andy. 
I look exhausted.
The next morning I baked cookies and headed over to Kim's house for her annual cookie exchange.  I made a mess out of the kitchen, and perhaps burned my homemade oreo cookies..but I had a great time!


Milk and Cookies..
 Next...Army Navy game!  I met up with my fellow JOs to watch the game and cheer Navy on to victory!

Ellen, Kris, Me

Ellen, Latham, Me

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Go Navy...Beat Army!!

This Saturday is one of the biggest college football rivalries, The United States Naval Academy versus West Point.  Should be a good game!  I wish I was in Philly at the game..but I will be in Chicago with my girls watching from a local bar that "adopted" the Naval Academy (thanks Latham!)


Here are some spirit spots for today...enjoy!!!

Friday, December 10, 2010

2009 CBS Army Navy Tease with Harrison Ford

Just a taste of Go Navy for tomorrow!

Favorite Things Friday

To continue with my favorite things Friday...I will list my favorite cupcake places in Chicago!

1. Bleeding Heart Bakery Absolutely wonderful cupcakes.  Even bought a cake for a special event here, and couldn't have been happier with how it turned out!
2. More Cupcakes Went here with a Chocolate Tour of Chicago.  Fabulous.
3. Molly's Cupcakes Always surprised with their selection!
4. Phoebe's Cupcakes Next to my favorite dog store in Wrigleyville.  Cupcakes are a must when I pick up treats for my pup!

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Pearl Harbor

Today is the remembrance of the attack on Pearl Harbor, December 7, 1941.  I visited the base and the National Park in 2006 while on leave in Hawaii.  My brother Steve, my niece Sarah, and I went to the park, and took the standard tour.  Since Steve was stationed there for about a year before my visit, he showed us some other areas, besides the USS Arizona Memorial.  It was a great experience, definitely one I will never forget.  If you ever visit Hawaii, a trip to this National Park and Memorial is a must see. 

USS Arizona Memorial

Taking the boat to the memorial, seeing the fuel still coming up from the massive grave below just gives you goosebumps.  There are over 1,000 Sailors and Marines whose remains still lie on the USS Arizona, considered to be "buried at sea." I always think of this recruiting posters, one of the many that are on display in the halls of the Navy's only bootcamp, RTC Great Lakes when I think of the attack on Pearl Harbor.

Navy Recruiting Poster

Part of President Roosevelt's "Infamy" Speech

Mr. Vice President, Mr. Speaker, members of the Senate and the House of Representatives:

Yesterday, December 7th, 1941 - a date which will live in infamy - the United States of America was suddenly and deliberately attacked by naval and air forces of the Empire of Japan.
The United States was at peace with that nation, and, at the solicitation of Japan, was still in conversation with its government and its Emperor looking toward the maintenance of peace in the Pacific.

Indeed, one hour after Japanese air squadrons had commenced bombing in the American island of Oahu, the Japanese Ambassador to the United States and his colleague delivered to our Secretary of State a formal reply to a recent American message. And, while this reply stated that it seemed useless to continue the existing diplomatic negotiations, it contained no threat or hint of war or of armed attack.

It will be recorded that the distance of Hawaii from Japan makes it obvious that the attack was deliberately planned many days or even weeks ago. During the intervening time the Japanese Government has deliberately sought to deceive the United States by false statements and expressions of hope for continued peace.

The attack yesterday on the Hawaiian Islands has caused severe damage to American naval and military forces. I regret to tell you that very many American lives have been lost. In addition, American ships have been reported torpedoed on the high seas between San Francisco and Honolulu.

Yesterday the Japanese Government also launched an attack against Malaya.
Last night Japanese forces attacked Hong Kong.
Last night Japanese forces attacked Guam.
Last night Japanese forces attacked the Philippine Islands.
Last night the Japanese attacked Wake Island.
And this morning the Japanese attacked Midway Island.

Japan has therefore undertaken a surprise offensive extending throughout the Pacific area. The facts of yesterday and today speak for themselves. The people of the United States have already formed their opinions and well understand the implications to the very life and safety of our nation.
As Commander-in-Chief of the Army and Navy I have directed that all measures be taken for our defense, that always will our whole nation remember the character of the onslaught against us.
No matter how long it may take us to overcome this premeditated invasion, the American people, in their righteous might, will win through to absolute victory. "

This speech, the photos from the day, the memory of the thousands that died...never forget.  History is here to teach us and help us learn from our not make similar grow as people. 

Monday, December 6, 2010

Chicago Cares

When I first moved back to Chicago in 2008, my friend Kim told me about this great volunteer organization, called Chicago Cares.  It is a great organization, and it so flexible!  They have a monthly calendar to sign up for various events around Chicago.  They have everything from Senior Breakfast Club, Bingo, and Pet Therapy.  I have met a few good friends through Chicago Cares..and love the cooking projects.  Let me know if you want to join me cooking breakfast for some energetic seniors someday!

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Go Hawks!

Joe had an extra ticket to the Hawks/Blues game for the 1st.  What a great time seeing an old friend/roomie/shipmate and meeting new people!

Me and Joe.  And yes, he got a lot of hell for that Blues gear.

Our Wolfpack.

Cool German Radiologists we met!

Guy from Bratislava who is travelling to NHL games for his birthday.  Awesome!

Friday, December 3, 2010

Favorite Things Friday

I wanted to preview some of my favorite things from Chicago and from my travels every Friday. 

Today will be some of my favorite restaurants in Lakeview, Chicago.

1. Bridget McNeills  I love their West Coast Turkey Sandwich.  Amazing
2. Wilde I have never had anything on their menu that I didn't love!
3. Hatsu Hana Great BYOB sushi. 
4. Goose Island Good beer, good food.  Whats not to love?
5. Lucky's Home of the overstuffed sammich on Man vs. Food.  Bring an appetite..

Whats your favorite restaurant?

Happy Friday!