Monday, May 30, 2011

Memorial Day

What is Memorial Day?  I think many folks think of it as that awesome 3 day weekend as the start of summer.  I mean, that is what I thought when I was a kid.  Until my dad would take me to the cemetery to put American Flags on my uncle's grave.  He was a Navy Captain, and we would always go to pay our respects.  He was a Navy Chaplain, and baptized me many years ago. 

People have been celebrating Memorial Day ever since the end of the Civil War.  It hit me yesterday when I drove along the parade route on State Street in downtown Chicago.  The Parade was getting set up a few hours beforehand, and I saw that the city was going to recognize the Gold Star families.  According to this news story, there were 23 service men and women from Illinois who were killed in action this past year. 

I always think of my fellow Sailors on Memorial Day.  People I know, and people I never even met.  One of my biggest inspirations in life is LT Michael Murphy.  He served as a Navy SEAL, and lost his life trying to save his team.  Only one man survived, Marcus Luttrell.  He wrote a book about his ordeal and about how LT Murphy tried to save his life, and the lives of the other men on his team.  The Navy just recently christened a ship in his name. 


I know I have written other posts about LT Murphy, and Marcus Luttrell.  Talking about people who put Honor, Courage, and Commitment first and foremost in their lives. 

Who are you thinking about this Memorial Day?

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Soldier Field Ten Miler

The race I have been psyching myself out over was yesterday.  And I am here to write about it:) 

I have been prepping for the race, but I knew I wouldn't be that fast, and I am ok with that.  I have never run a race to win it, I am not an elite athlete.  I just want to run to run, run to be in shape, and yesterday, it was running for Memorial Day.  We ran as a team from work, approx 85 active duty Sailors on one team.  Not bad for a little Saturday run.  We also had about another 85-100 volunteer, by giving out water, etc etc.  Kind of awesome to see everyone work as a team!

The weather was perfect, but the course was rather crowded the entire route.  That is something I am not used to.  Constantly dodging people who were walking.  I think the race has almost gotten "too" big, because there was a lot of chaos in the beginning, and the usual, people signing up for corrals they have no business being in (i.e...dodging the walkers in the first mile).  I have learned a lot from the past two races I ran this past month, so now I know I'll be better prepared for my half marathon in September.  As long as I didn't destroy my body too badly yesterday!!  Still sore, so not sure how I will recover just yet.

I learned a few things from training.  I learned that cross training is important.  I learned that I love Bikram Yoga, and I can't wait to go to my next class, no matter how sweaty and nasty I get.  I also learned that my hamstrings hate me.  I can stretch and do anything, and no matter what, they hate me.  I will be for sure doing more sports massages to help relieve the tension I have there.  I did a lot of physical therapy 3 years ago for this, but there was zero progress.  I hope that with more effort being put into my hammies, I'll feel better, recover easier, and run faster!!

via Daily

Friday, May 27, 2011

Favorite Things Friday

Favorite Coffee shops..for whatever reason:)

I have been on a hunt for the perfect place since I moved to Chicago.  Each of the places I talk about have their ups, downs, and stories behind each of them.

Starbucks.  The one near my house is open 24-7.  Score for me for those days I have to get up at 0400 to get to work on time for whatever reason I have to be there that early.  Have had many run ins with crazy people here, like pimps, etc.  Not sure my story is PG-13 enough for the blog!  Click the link to see the yelp stories, I am sure they tell part of my story.  +1 for cake pops and low fat vanilla lattes

Argo Tea.  I know, not necessarily coffee, but amazing.  I love their Pom Tea, and the fact you can buy tea at local grocery stores.  You can recycle the glass container, and get money off your next purchase!

Intelligenstia.  Good coffee.  Strong.  Little bit of yuppie hell.  Always packed with people who just stare out the window and people watch.  Definitely compares to cruise-a-boo coffee.

Overflow Coffee Bar.  Gem in the South Loop.  Love it.  Reminds me of college:)  I would study at all the no-name coffee houses between classes.

from Overflow Coffee Bar.
picture from my Android:)

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Summer Festivals Anyone??

Metromix has the updated 2011 Chicago Summer Festivals listed.

Here are a few prospects:

28-29 Belmont/Sheffield Music Festival

4-5 Sausage Fest (aka Lakeview Music Fest..)
10-12 Chicago Blues Festival
10-12 Party at St. Mikes (we all know that St. Mike's fest is where the party is at, or at least where you meet men who wear all denim)

9-10 Roscoe Village Burger Fest
15-16 Old St Pats Block Party

Who wants to go with me?!?

Monday, May 23, 2011

Favorite Mexican/Latin American Restaurants in Chicago

So I figured if I wrote a post on making my own Mexican food..I would write about my favorite Mexican food haunts in the city..

Buena Vista  This little BYOB gem in Lakeview is perfect for a cheap night out.  There is a liquor store across the street, so you can pick up some Dos Equis or Margaritas, and head on over.  Never been disappointed with a trip here!

Cesars.  I can't say enough good things about this place.  I am sure I have written about this place before, because their slogan is "Killer Margaritas".  They are definitely killer, and I have never left this place without a satisfied appetite and a buzz.  Mondays are $5 everything for lunch..kind of awesome.

Cafe 28.  Much more ritzy than the other places.  Also more Cuban than any other food, but a great place for a girls night out or date night!

Taco and Burrito House.  Great for take out.  Some of the best enchiladas I have ever had.

La Taberna Tapatia.  I can barely pronounce the name, but I had a blast here.  Great food, even better drinks.  Strong Margaritas. 

Litos Empanadas.  This place has some of the best empanadas I have ever had.  I usually go here when I am running errands on a weekend.  Tried almost the entire menu, and would recommend all of it!

Uncle Julios Hacienda.  This place is huge, and I loved the food.  Only bad thing is if you park here, it is valet.   If you don't like being forced to valet, this is an issue. 

Holy cow that is a lot of restaurants.  But what can I say..who doesn't love some tacos and a margarita??

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Mexican Food in Chicago

So I went on a long run today training for my race next weekend.  After I was done, I had a huge craving for Mexican food..not sure why :)  I went out to the Market Place Grocery Store on Diversey.  Kind of expensive with certain foods (Milk is $5 for a half gallon..yikes), so I only buy specialty kind of foods there. 
They have one thing I used to have all the time as a kid, Tom Tom Tomales.  My dad would go to the store featured here .  Sooo good!  I would suggest visiting the store if you want to buy in bulk.  Wonderful for party food.  Or for feeding 5 kids!

A few of my favorite Chicago Mexican Food brands:
Tom Tom Tomales
El Milagro Corn Chips/Tortillas, etc
Frontera (Rick Bayless) Wonderful Salsa and Chips

I will definitely have to add to this post soon.  I make a lot of homemade Mexican at home, but haven't in a while.  Need to get back on it now that the weather is getting nicer, and turning on the oven will be something of the past..I hope:)

Saturday, May 21, 2011


Running a race this upcoming weekend, and I am a bit nervous.  I was swamped this week with school, work, and being under the weather.  Had a good training run this am..ran about 4 miles in a good time, so I am happy about that.  I just want to finish the race.  I need to get in one or two more solid runs and some cross training this week, but just not over do it.  I tend to get a runners high so strong, that a 4 mile run will turn into an 8 mile run.  No good:( 

I have been working out a lot lately, mostly running, Bikram Yoga, and cross training.  I wouldn't trade it for how I feel, and how I look.  Getting actual sleep every night, eating well, and working out religiously has definitely made me feel better than I have in a long time.  I just hope I can keep this up, because I love the compliments I am getting from Mike. 

Girls Night..

So we had a ladies dinner and a farewell for Ellen last weekend.  I hate having to post this because I don't want her to leave Chicago!  But I know we will have continued craziness throughout the good ol USA:)

We had dinner at Sunda.  Amazing Asian food, seriously.  If you ever get a chance to go..try the Rock Shrimp.  I could have eaten 3 bowls of it on my own. 

Alexa, Me, Ellen @ Sunda

Wells on Wells

Me and Elle Belle @ Wells on Wells

Can't wait for more ladies nights this summer, and when I go to the DC area for school :)

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Old Photos..

So I was looking at the Chicago Tribune today, and I saw that the FBI was questioning the Unabomber in connection to the 1982 Tylenol tamperings in Chicago.

Every time I see this case in the news, they always have pictures of my dad.  He was one of the Health Department employees who worked the case.  I was only a baby when it happened, but I enjoy seeing pictures of him at work (even though this case was awful).   I have a few photos of him in frame, working in college and at work.  He loved being a chemist.  He is on the far right. 

AP Photo October 7, 1982

Friday, May 13, 2011

Favorite Things Friday

So, in the mood of all things pampering..(getting a fresh haircut tomorrow), I figured I would share my favorite places to get pampered.

1. Allyu.  The minute you walk in, you feel instantaneously relaxed.  The atmosphere, the people, the relaxation is all amazing.  I love getting massages, facials, and manicures here.

2. Carissima.  My salon.  I was walking by here one day, found it, and fell in love.  I haven't gone anywhere else in Chicago.  Not sure I will (unless it is my cousin, Ann-Marie).  I go to Lucy, and she is wonderful.

3. Sinead.  Another spa/salon.  I got a massage here once, and it was pure heaven.  Bought one for the bf for valentine's day. 

I will definitely miss these places when I move, and have to find my new "pampering" place.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011


85 degrees today..Looks like Bella and I will go for a long walk today!!
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Monday, May 9, 2011

Weekend ReCap

Wow..what a weekend!

Friday was date night, and it seemed like it flew by wayy to fast.  Mexican food, Dos Equis, watching the Bulls win.  Great evening!

Saturday I did Bikram yoga again, and as usual, it wore me out.  Can't wait to do it again on Friday!  The ever faithful Yogis say that it helps heal all of their ailments, helps them sleep better, etc.  I really want to practice one day a week (since it is 90 minutes long..and takes forever for me to recover).  Hopefully I can work it up to 2 days a week since it is such a great workout.

Sunday I did a historical run through Hyde Park with Allison.  So much fun!  Fleet Feet has scheduled runs and other events, so we thought we would try it out.  We ran 2 miles there, and then did 4 miles with the group.  After the run, it was Fish Tacos and Miller Lites at Benchmark.  Highly suggest you go.  Retractable roof+sun+Miller Lite=Bliss.  It is owned by the same folks that own Schoolyard and WestEnd.  Great memories at both places..usually pre/post Cubs or Hawks games!

Rockefeller Chapel.  University of Chicago Campus

Gorgeous flowers outside of the chapel.

Now I need to take a day or two off to recover.  Have to take care of myself so I can run the Soldier Field 10 miler!!

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Fitness Update

I have been running, doing yoga, cycling etc like a mad woman lately.  Seriously.  I had a blast doing the 5K I did, but it was freezing outside:)

I love running, and am hoping to do the 5K for Children's Memorial Hospital June 18th. 

Anyone want to join me? 

Oh yeah, up to 10 pounds lost :)  Yay.  Lets hope I can keep the trend...



So rumor had it that cake pops are where its at. Just had one for breakfast. Amazing!

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Tuesday, May 3, 2011


I have had a rough couple of weeks at work, etc.  and I have had a lot of people get me through it:)

Ellen-So sad to see her leave Chicago, but I know I can count on her no matter what!

Meghan-thanks for the random lunch, and talks.  You have made this past month so much more bearable!

Laura-partner in crime.  Can't wait to see you in Newport!

Mike-best guy a girl could ask for.  :)

I am blessed to have some great friends, who are here for me all the time.  This list is not all inclusive, but I had to give a shout out to those who got me through the past couple of weeks.

Now, onto finishing school...then I can focus on work and moving.  3 more months left in Chicago!!


Monday, May 2, 2011

Run to Remember

This year was a tragic year for the Chicago Police Department.  I think anyone who lives in Chicago, knows someone who serves on the police force.  They have a tough job, keeping our city safe every day.  Just like the military, they serve and protect, work holidays, and make many sacrifices. 

The city mourned the loss of 6 officers who died in the line of duty. 

The Run to Remember was this past Saturday, and it is in its 7th year.  Over 4,000 people ran a 5K to remember the fallen officers, and raise money for the Police Memorial Foundation.  I was fortunate enough to run along side some friends of mine who serve on the force, and even ran into a classmate from U of I.  You can follow Run to Remember on FB, and keep track of events for the Police Memorial Foundation.  I hope I can fly back to run it next year.

Run to Remember

Police Memorial Post 5K

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Honor Flight

This past Wednesday was the first Honor Flight of the year.  I did one last year, and it was an amazing experience. 

After we get to Midway Airport, we line up, and get ready to greet the WWII veterans that are on their way back from DC from their day there.  The sight is amazing, and to see the look on the veteran's faces as they see us welcome them home is priceless. 

After the veterans are welcomed by the active duty service members rendering them honors, they go to the baggage claim area, where their families wait for them.  There are so many people there, Patriot Guard Riders, Boy Scouts, bands- you name it.  What a sight.

Please look at the link, and watch the video.  Honor Flight Chicago.  If you ever get a chance to go to Midway for one, you won't regret it. 

All the families welcoming home their WWII Hero.