Wednesday, June 29, 2011

My Shortest Blog Post Ever... You Can Thank My Smartphone for It

i am officially obsessed with blogging. here i am, sitting in ohare, awaiting my flight abroad for the holiday weekend and here is what is consuming my thoughts... and not necessarily in this order, just to clarify...

passport, check
glasses/toiletries, check
checked in, check... haha no pun intended
blog post update...

full stop.

hello. i cant have my blog go without an update at least explaining that i may be slacking on the blog posts till next tuesday. dont want my avid followers to think ive lost steam or anything... haha im sure you were all waiting on the edge of your seat and everything.

sooo... this ones for you, blog fans. from my droid and everything. whew typing a whole post on an itty bitty keyboard is trying with a capital t. not to mention i dont know why in heavens name my keyboard doesnt allow for any exclamations, caps, etc when im updating on blogspot... travesty. utter travesty. soo, im cutting off my post right... now.

till next week, my friends... off to iceland i go... wish me and my oh so outdoorsy self luck..

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

A Nationality Enshrouded in Mystery

Okay, can you please do me a favor? Before you continue reading this blog post, can you please take a look at my profile picture and tell me what nationality you would peg me for (if you don't know me, that is)?

I feel like, as of late, I'm having a nationality identity crisis.

Here I was, going along my merry way, fully embracing my identity as "the most Americanized Indian girl you will ever meet". But then I meet a fellow coworker and somehow, we end up talking about nationalities. It was at the point when I offhandedly indicate that I'm Indian and he's like "Wait, you're Indian??", that I begin thinking about how we have just embarked on one interesting conversation, my friends.

Of course, instead of directly answering, I respond with "Wait! What did you think I was??" I actually love hearing what people have to say in response. Because, quite frankly, I have heard it all. I dare anyone to outdo my fourth grade experience, where some chick (read: classmate) asked me about my Chinese roots...

Trust me. I know.

OBVI, it's nothing against Chinese people (or anyone of East Asian descent, really), but seriously. Let's have a look at my profile picture once again... and, well, if YOU can find any rationale behind that comment, you go on ahead and let me know.

Anyway! Back to my coworker... whose response to my "Wait! What did you think I was?" question was something along the lines of: "Oh, I would say anything from Hispanic... to African-American... to Persian."


Yup- my thoughts exactly. WHAT kind of physical resemblance do these three nationalities have to one another?

Sigh. I guess that's better than a happy hour I was at earlier this month. When my nationality was brought up again (I don't know WHY this has been such a point for discussion as of late), someone's response to this fun little game involved the statement, "Oh... I have absolutely no idea."


This is quickly going from bad to worse. NO idea? Seriously? I mean, what in heaven's name do I come across like to people?! And why is there such confusion with ME? It seems that most of my Indian friends rarely, if ever, have a problem being pegged as Indian.

You know, I should probably be a bit more affronted by the fact that people have no idea "what" I am, but I'm really not because... who are we kidding? I LOVE this mysterious nationality thing I've got going on! I mean, I've always dreamed of being a Citizen of the World. And if having this whole "nationality enshrouded in mystery" leads to one more Citizen of the World (ME, just to clarify for that fourth grade classmate of mine who, well, apparently needs all the clarification she can get), well... so very darn well BE IT!

Come to think of it, you know what would be The Ultimate Goal? To have just one stranger guess that I am MIXED. OMHG (Oh, My Heavenly God), I literally think I would squeal, hug, swoon and faint (in that order) because, quite frankly... well, how about YOU go ahead and tell me where you've seen ONE mixed person that looks nothing short of perfection.

Sigh. Oh, the dreams. Oh, the... ridiculous dreams.

Monday, June 27, 2011

Why I am Stuck in the WRONG Age-Span

Do you ever feel like you don't act your age? I think it would be the coolest thing if we were just born into one age-span and stayed there for our entire lives.

If that were the case, I would most certainly choose to be born into... hmm... the 50-60 year old age-span.

I know this sounds a little weird to want to shoot right on up into the golden years, but I really believe that, after the age of 18, I could have just bumped my way on up to the 50-60 year age-span and been perfectly content for the rest of my days.

With such a grandiose (not to mention completely off the wall) statement, I've taken the liberty of detailing exactly WHY I believe my 20s are lost on me. I narrowed it down to three primary points (all of which have the same general theme, let's face it), but trust me. The list could go on and on...

Why I am Stuck in the WRONG Age-Span

1. I don't really understand the POINT of "going out"... I mean, when I'm out with my friends, I'm hanging out with my friends- why go to some loud, bumpin' bar/club when we could just hang out at someone's apartment or even a low-key (read: quiet) bar?

How on earth are people supposed to enjoy the art of conversation (I guess thinking that people WANT to enjoy the art of conversation when frolicking out and about is my first misstep here...) when people are jam PACKED into a club (to the point where one is more than likely partaking in a SIGNIFICANT fire hazard violation) where the music is so loud you really can't even hear the person next to whom you are jam-packed?

I mean, don't get me wrong. I do love me the merry little tune every now and then... but again, in MODERATION! I don't understand this whole "louder is better" theme that some of these clubs apparently seem to have going on.

I think this point is only further supported by the fact that the one bar that I am dying to try in Chicago is... well, a board game bar. WHAT? Who doesn't like a good board game?!

2. I am NOT a nightowl, so these wild and crazy nights out till 4 AM are few and far between (if not nonexistent, at this point). I swear, if I make it to midnight without a yawn, I am doing WELL for the evening. Let's just say that is more the anomaly than the norm.

I can't help it! I've NEVER been a nightowl... rather, I tend to be an extreme of a morning person! Who are we kidding, I likely awaken earlier than most 50-60 year olds... we can totally just forget about people who are in my ACTUAL age-span. But what can I say? I'm a sucker for the peace and quiet that only a luxurious early morning can bring.

3. This whole excessive alcohol consumption is NOT interesting to me anymore. I really don't understand how people my age are still going strong. I mean, for the most part, we've been doing this since we were in our teens... that's a DECADE PLUS, people! Having a story about how hung over we are the next day after a raging night out really does NOT provide the entertainment that it used to... in my opinion, of course. I'm sure there are plenty out there that beg to differ.

I think my whole thing with this topic is that I really have tried oh so many times to find alcoholic beverages that I actually ENJOY drinking. After a decade plus of experimentation, I have come to the conclusion... that there is none (for me).

I think I'm just super sensitive to the tase of alcohol or something. But honestly... when someone is like "This beer is JUST the dessert I was craving", I swear I have a VERY hard time holding back a somewhat judgmental stare. Seriously? Beer=dessert? I do NOT think so.

While I will not turn any beverage down (Can I help it that I succumb to societal socializing norms? Or that I take weird pride in how well I can take a shot?), I can 100% assure you that IF I had to choose ONE alcoholic beverage to down, it would be a mudslide... which, let's be honest, is pretty much a milkshake.

Trust me, while there are plenty of other reasons why I believe my 20s are truly lost on me, I think you pretty much get the gist of this, right? Right. And, let's be honest, this blog post has gone on long enough. (What? I like to fully SUPPORT my arguments, thank you very much!)

Off to knitting class! Hahaha... just KIDDING. Geeeeez.

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Enjoying the Early Morning

So, after a week of getting about 10-12 hours of sleep every night (don't ask, I have no idea what is going on with my body), I was delighted to be back to my normal 5:45 AM-arise-with-the-sun-sans-alarm-clock routine.

Except for the fact that it was Saturday. And quite frankly, while I do wake up earlier than an average individual on the weekends, 5:45 AM was still pretty darn early, even for me.

Oh well! Up and at 'em, I guess! Haha. Normally, I would have lazed around a little bit more, but after a week of thunderstormy gloomdoom CENTRAL, being greeted with THIS view was more than enough to get my day started RIGHT.


Anyway, Because of my abnormal sleeping patterns, I just gave up on my running routine for the week. A shame, too, considering it was supposed to be the very first week of my actual half marathon training. Sigh. I'm not going to let myself off easily, however. I missed a week, but I'm just going to have to start where I SHOULD have been... so four mile run it is!

God, I don't know why I even TRY to sound peppy. I was kind of dreading it, let's be real. And by "kind of", I mean "completely and totally".

But whatever- I got myself on out there... and it actually wasn't all too bad! I mean, it was no walk in the PARK, let's be honest, but it wasn't AS horrendous as I would have expected after having taken a week completely off. I guess when you envision the worst, you really can't be all too disappointed, now can you? Haha. The key to happiness, if you will. Yet another pearl of wisdom for the books, my friends.

Well, after THAT kind of a start to my Saturday, you KNOW those endorphins were all in high gear and I was ready to take on the world...

Except for the fact that it was still only about 7:15 AM on a Saturday... so the world is pretty much still sleeping.

Except for...

Those avid farmers' market fans!! Yesss!! The Green City Market (located right in the heart of Lincoln Park) is one of the BEST farmers' markets EVER! It's huge, has a terrific selection, is centrally located and even has entertainment from time to time! It's SO my happy place, really. And, today was CERTAINLY no exception!

I mean, this place is enough to even almost make me want to eat fruits and veggies sometimes!

ALMOST. It doesn't help that like right next door is...

Well... things that are more along the lines of MY kind of basic food group, if you know what I mean.

I didn't end up purchasing anything at the market since I'm going on vacation this week, but don't you think that was the end of my early morning experience. Please. Last stop?

My favorite little coffee shop... Siena by Maria. It's so cute and cozy and, holy MOLY, I love the owners!! They are the most adorable couple EVER and the service they provide totally reminds me of the kind of down-home, friendly service you would receive in, like, Cape Cod or something. Well... not like I've ever BEEN to Cape Cod, but you get where I'm going... right? Right.

But I digress. Anyway, I had my book that to finish! So, armed with a pumpkin spice latte (that's right- Siena sells these puppies all year ROUND!alkfdsj!) and... well, a lemon cookie (I know, I know. Breakfast of champs, and all that), I settled in to continue Enjoying My Early Morning...

Sigh. SUCH a productive, fulfilling day so far! And it's not even 10 AM yet! Come on, world! Up and AT 'EM!

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Cupcakes for Courage

Today was such a warm and fuzzy feeling kinda day. Instead of going to work, I ended up volunteering with some of my coworkers... and by volunteering, I mean we ended up going bowling, eating pizza and seeing The Green Lantern with about 15 teens.

All good and fine, really. BUT... it was only when I was walking back from the event, just chitchatting away with one of my coworkers when we stumbled across...

Umm! If you don't think I literally came to a FULL STOP and halted any and all forms of conversation... well, you clearly don't know me all that well. Hello! There were cupcakes involved here, people!

Needless to say, my coworker and I parted ways right about there. I guess some people won't just drop EVERYthing at the word cupcake... I am clearly NOT one of those people. Quite the opposite, in fact.

To be honest, I had been craving something sweet all afternoon, so it really was the word cupcake that drew me to the little cupcake-mobile. And their CHOICES for today CERTAINLY didn't disappoint this sweet-toothed gal.

God, I am so darn happy that I'm unhealthily addicted to all things cupcake, because I got to learn about an interesting cause in the process of satiating my addiction.

Cupcakes for Courage ( is an organization run by two sisters, with a portion of its proceeds going to the Ride Janie Ride foundation ( and to cancer research (specifically, lymphoma and other blood cancers). The idea came about when Kathryn was diagnosed with cancer in May, 2010 and Laura baked cupcakes for a bake sale held in her honor to curb her medical care costs.

You can likely guess the rest... these cupcakes were such a hit that Cupcakes for Courage is the ultimate product!

It really doesn't get any better than this! Not only do these cupcakes' proceeds support a fine cause, they are also good FOR you (well, as good for you as cupcakes can be) as these sisters only use natural ingredients and products for their concoctions.

Sigh. Told you it doesn't get any better.

It certainly doesn't hurt that they don't bother cluttering their menu...

Weeee! Just seeing "Cupcakes! Cupcakes! Cupcakes!" ... I can't fully describe the jubilee aside from... well... lksjfalksj! But they totally have it RIGHT! Stick with what you know, love and are obviously already good at.

Soo... final verdict?

I ended up going with the Taffy Apple cupcake and, I have to say, it was pretty darn SPOT. ON. I totally felt healthy eating it and everything! What? All-natural ingredients... hello, people!

All kidding aside, I really did think this was such a unique idea for such a great cause- it certainly is one step in the right direction... one step closer to bringing the world together one cupcake at a time, if you will...

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Teatime, Teeth and Thunderstorms

Believe it or not, I can tie all three of those things together, thank you very much. Don't put it past me!

I'm normally a fairly focused individual- especially when it comes to my work. Nothing can really get in the way of it. Some may diagnose it as a mild form of workaholism... I prefer to think of it as just plain diligence- hmmph. (Hahaha- can you TOTALLY picture the kind of student I used to be? Ohh well!)

Today is one of those days where I am having the HARDEST time focusing. I think it's the past couple of slightly longer work days catching up to me, but quite frankly, I know when I need a break (lessons learned from In Praise of Slowness, by Carl Honore- SUCH a good read). What better way to take a break than with a good, old-fashioned COZY cup of chai.

With a straw, of course!

Several people have questioned why I drink my warm beverages with a straw. It's all very simple, my friends. I firmly believe that the straw is God's gift to all those out there wanting to preserve their pearly whites. I mean, can you IMAGINE what my teeth would look like if I drank all these beverages notorious for staining your teeth WITHOUT a straw?

(Aw man. I was totally about to insert a picture of my very own teeth right HERE, but I didn't want to 1. Gross you out (what if I have something in my teeth? I haven't checked a mirror in a while.) and 2. Let's face it, I have some degree of shame and didn't want to be taking a picture of my TEETH in the OFFICE, hello!)

I think this afternoon tea break was just what I needed! Who knew that Argo Tea's free samples could make a girl so HAPPY?

What can I say? I'm a sucker for all deals, free samples or otherwise. If you haven't gotten THAT fact by now, well... I'm not going to OPENLY question your personal acuity.

Anyway! Let me just say- it's amazing what being able to get outside and take a break can do for one's sanity! Well... until one realizes that flip flops were WAY too optimistic for today- I'm not sure what this looks like to you, but be fairly warned that some SERIOUS storm clouds were coming our way... and quite rapidly at that.

Sigh. What else can I expect considering yesterday's SO RIDICULOUSLY RANDOM tornado plow-through, really?

Oh well. Nothing like figuring out a creative means of navigating the mean city streets in flip flops during an inevitable torrential downpour to occupy one's thoughts for the afternoon...

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

I don't want to run... so you know what? I'm just plain not going to.


Today was supposed to be the grand day to start my ACTUAL half marathon schedule. 3 miles, baby! It started out semi-promising, as I woke up this morning at 5:45 after a fitful night's sleep. Well, if I'm up at 5:45, I might as well get OUT of bed and get my workout over with, right?

Wrong-o. Sometimes, don't YOU just feel like laying around? This doesn't typically happen with me- I am such a morning person, I'm usually ready to hop on outta bed and get my day started... and then take a nap or two as the day progresses. But I digress. Anyway, today was one of those anomalous (for me) days, where I literally just lay there, pondering life and all that.

Until I got bored after like 15 minutes.

So I dragged myself out of bed and headed to work early (I had a deadline anyway, so that was the other reason why I didn't want to run this morning- because I knew I wanted to get into the office earlier than normal). Anyway, no big deal, I would just fit my running in after work, I figured.

Umm. Then I left my nice, frigidly air-conditioned office and walked out into what can only be described as HEAT and, worse yet, HUMIDITY. The air was THICK with it- it was all rather disgusting, in my opinion. But whatever, I can only complain so much- at least the sun was shining (which is more than can be said about MUCH of this summer... ahem, CHICAGO. Stamp of FOOT, here, people!).

Anyway, no bigs. It's just three miles. I can just hurry up and get it over with in the half hour when I get home. As a matter of fact, I contemplated the pros and cons of running my entire bus ride home. Gotta occupy my thoughts somehow, I guess. It didn't help that I was ready to fall asleep on the bus because I was so exhausted (I SWEAR, I don't know WHAT is going on with me and my exhaustion the past few weeks). But me and that training schedule of mine... I'm anal retentive about crossing things off that calendar, don't you forget it.

Well... clearly, not today. By the time my bus had reached my stop, I'd come to the conclusion that the pros totally outweighed the cons and I should just suck it up and get this run over with. But then I walked off the bus... and was greeted by yet another BLAST of humidity, if that's possible. At which point, I literally muttered aloud "I do NOT think so"... I got only one stare so I think my semblance of sanity was somewhat maintained. Whoops.

It was awful! But I'm just such a wimp in heat and humidity, that there was no turning back. Not to mention I had a full night ahead of me! I mean, if a night filled with phone dates, eating granola and yogurt, watching Obama's national address, and duh, BLOGGING (changing lives, one blog post at a time, if you will... ha) isn't enough justification to postpone the start of my half-marathon training, I just don't know what is.

Fine, fine, fine. I'm making IN-credibly lame-o excuses. Even I realize this fact, don't you worry. Therefore, I have made a pact with myself to get my lazy butt up EARLY tomorrow to go for my run.

Isn't it amazing how, rather than just getting this one activity over and done with before my day has started, I proceed to dwell on it for a solid fourteen hours? Good times.

Feel free to yell at me tomorrow if I haven't run yet. Because you KNOW otherwise, I'll just endlessly whine about it instead. Take your pick...

Sunday, June 19, 2011

SunCHIne and Summertime: Free Yoga on the Beach! Oh, God.

After getting about 16 hours of sleep last night, you would think I would be all bright-eyed and bushy-tailed, ready to take my Sunday on in full FORCE.

Nope. Instead, I woke up about forty-five minutes before I was supposed to arrive at this group yoga on the beach dealio I'd signed up for and, quite frankly, was half-tempted to just skip it. But please. Me? Skip a free event?

Especially a free exercise event? I SO do not think so.

So, off to yoga I went! Trust me, that exclamation point implies a whole lot more enthusiasm than I was actually feeling. I do think I feel better after the (few) times I've partaken in yoga, but still. I just can't seem to get all pumped UP for it. Anyway, this free yoga event was sponsored by Old Navy, Men's/Women's Health magazine and CorePower Yoga and was taking place on North Avenue Beach (almost a hop, skip and jump from my place), so I figured I might as well take advantage of yet another SunCHIne and Summertime activity.

As soon as I arrived, I was pleased with my decision to get my lazy butt out of bed. Everyone was so friendly during registration (must be those yoga endorphins already in high gear) and, let's be honest, the schwag CERTAINLY didn't hurt!

Free water bottles, a free Women's Health magazine and some free (healthy!) snacks were among the little treats with which I was delighted upon arrival!

I settled in to a spot (in the BACK, who are we kididng here?) just as the class was starting to fill up...

And so... let the CorePower Yoga commence.

Sigh. I WISH I looked like some of these folks... because they CERTAINLY look like they know what they're doing (to an extent, let's be fair). I mean, I give the instructors all the credit in the world for being motivational and detail-oriented when describing some of these poses, but at the end of the day, I just don't think yoga is for me.

Maybe it was me just being a wimp in the heat and humidity of this event. Or maybe it was the fact that this thing took place on the beach... and, well, I don't know about you, but MAN, who knew that balancing on varying mounds of sand could get so DARN DIFFICULT at points?

It didn't help that sand was literally getting EVERYwhere.

Like, that's where I was supposed to put my HEAD at one point! Are you kidding me? EW. Needless to say, I couldn't help but feel so DIRTY by the end of it all (does it make sense that I'm in LOVE with the beach, but NOT the biggest sand person? Sigh. Oh well. Whether it makes sense or not, it's true.)

Let's just say, by the end of this experience, I was so MORE than ready for a shower and, quite frankly, a nap. Yes, again. What can I say? Being all stretchy-stretchy and achieving all kinds of levels of zen apparently takes a lot outta me.

Saturday, June 18, 2011

The Cupcake-Off - A Photo Essay

Yess!!! As expected, last night's Cupcake-Off was a monumental SUCCESS! Not like there was ever any question, really. I mean, if you have a party centered around cupcakes, you can't really go wrong.

The ever-glam hostesses, Neha and Deepti, however, went above and beyond my expectations for this Cupcake-Off (and believe you me, when it comes to cupcakes, my expectations are SKY. HIGH).

As guests started arriving, there was a nice little spread of delightfully tasty apps. Yum-O.

Everything was so tasty and delicious (ESPECIALLY that bruschetta!), that I had to exercise some serious restraint to save my appetite for...

The SPREAD! Check it OUT! Holy mother of all that is good and pure in the world- I was literally swooning. Partaking in the Cupcake-Off? Sprinkles, Sweet Mandy B's, Molly's, Crumbs, Alliance, and some bakery from the suburbs (haha. I really just forget the name of it! I'm not DISCOUNTING the suburbs by any means!).

And GOD! The TYPES of cupcakes! I have never been a greater fan of diversity until I experienced the diversity of these cupcakes. From lemon to red velvet to peanut butter nutella... we really had the entire spectrum of cupcaking covered. (Hahaha. I should totally submit that last line to Urban Dictionary... get it?!) I'm sorry, but let's have another look at this spread, from a diversity perspective if you will...

And sooo... Neha announced the start of the Cupcake-Off! We had basically put the names of the cupcakes and their respective bakeries on Post-Its and stuck those Post-Its on the bottoms of the bowls (so no one could see which bakery each was from), with little additional Post-Its next to each so individuals can vote on their top three.

Not going to lie... as soon as the Cupcake-Off started, everyone jumped on BOARD. Well... maybe the girls were a tad more excited than the guys.

But whatever. The guys couldn't hold out for VERY much longer.

And please... don't TELL me they weren't enjoying their cupcakes as much as the girls...

So, finally... at the end of some SERIOUS taste-testing, the cupcake with the most tallies was a carrot cake cupcake from Sweet Mandy B's....

Oh wait! That was MINE!! laksjdflksajflkj! I won! I won!!! I wasn't even self-advertising or anything (hard to believe, I know)!! I LOVED how Neha had even thought of a present for the winner and everything!

Sigh. My night was SET! Until... well, enter The Latecomer. One of Neha's friends decided to take his own sweet time showing up, so his cupcakes (from Phoebe's Cupcakes) were taste-tested about fifteen minutes after the Cupcake-Off had been completed (and I'd been declared the winner. Just to reiterate... in a friendly fashion, of course!).

And to be honest, his Salted Caramel cupcake was pretty divine. So... upon further review (and by further review, I mean his self-tallying of the room)... a new winner was declared.

I know, right? But you know what? I'm a happy person and the individual least likely to hold a grudge... so without any resentment whatsoever, I handed over my Cupcake-Off trophy...

(As an aside, I think he looks particularly confused in this picture because right before we took it, I totally spouted off "I hope you're okay with Internet security because this picture's going to be in my BLOG!" *CLICK PICTURE*... hahahah well, WHAT? He hadn't heard all the blog talk earlier that night because remember? He was The Latecomer... anyway. Again, I'm not bitter in the least.)

Sigh. Such a fleeting victory. But such a MEMORABLE NIGHT, overall!

This was one of the best party themes EVER! I'm actually beaming in PRIDE as I reflect on Neha's creative genius with this one. Well DONE!

Thursday, June 16, 2011

The Official Cupcake-Off Checklist

Happy Cupcake-Off Eve!! Happy Cupcake-Off Eve!!

My friend, Neha, had the grandest idea in all the land a few weeks ago when, out of the clear blue, she just decided to have a cupcake-off. Have you guys ever heard of this? Because I sure hadn't. And yet, I think it should become the next best trend. After the trend of cupcakes, that is.

Anyway, so basically, each guest is to bring two cupcakes to the Cupcake-Off - one "basic" (ie: vanilla cake/chocolate frosting, chocolate cake/chocolate frosting, etc.) cupcake and one "specialty" cupcake (ie: a cupcake with some sort of filling in the middle). I'm assuming each cupcake will be cut into quarters and all can sample whichever ones at will.

If there's judging involved, well... I'll bring scorecards!

Dude, I don't think you understand how EXCITED I AM ABOUT THIS! Weeee!!! Much of my young adult life has been defined by cupcakes (pathetic, but true- I'm ob-SESSED) and umm... Chicago only has some of the BEST cupcake shops in the U.S. I never thought any cupcake would top Magnolia's cupcakes in New York but... man, I'm sorry. Molly's Cupcakes in Chicago supercedes Magnolia's by tenfold (or greater).

And that's just the beginning. Sweet Mandy B's, Crumbs, Sprinkles, Phoebe's, More... this city is LADEN with cupcake shops (and yes, I know some of them are in other cities outside of Chicago).

So much to prepare for! So little time! As with any big occasion which requires extensive planning, I've created...

Christie's Cupcake-Off Checklist!!

1. Verify dress code - well, I don't know! The hostess is from the South! Don't you get dressed up for monumental evening events in the South? If a Cupcake-Off doesn't count as a monumental evening event, I simply just don't know what does.

2. Go SHOPPING! - this is dependent on #1 above. I mean, if I need to buy a fancy schmancy summer dress for this extravaganza... well, twist my arm, really.

3. Print Groupon out - even though Molly's is my favorite cupcake shop in all the land, I signed up to bring Sweet Mandy B's because... well, I had a Groupon that I needed to use! So kill me.

4. Go to Molly's Cupcakes and pick up 2 cupcakes - it's pretty dangerous to live just a few blocks down from Molly's. It's also pretty AWE-some. My friend, Urmi, signed up to bring Molly's so I'm going to stop by and pick up her choice of cupcakes for her. Again, twist my arm, really.

5. Go to Sweet Mandy B's and pick up two cupcakes - sigh. SUCH an adorable bake shop in the heart of Lincoln Park. It's actually been aWHILE since I've been here so I'm more than a little excited to reacquaint myself with its coziness.

6. Map out Cupcake-Off strategy - well, I don't want to overload on sugar TOO quickly! I want to savor and appreciate every. last. bite.
6a. Cupcake-Off strategy
I. I'll likely avoid anything with chocolate, because why waste calories and richness on something that I don't really enjoy in the first place?
II. I plan to TRULY eat a quarter of each cupcake I choose and NOT get carried away with the ones I already love (and subsequently, eat the whole thing. Obvi).
III. Try out the cupcakes from those bakeries I haven't yet tried, so I can be as fair and impartial as possible (HA. I already KNOW that's not going to happen).
IV. Fourth, drink a fair amount of water between cupcakes. Cleanse that palate and all that.

7. Get those Spanx ready- you KNOW they'll be a necessity. Hey, at least I'm HONEST! (to fully understand my love of the Spanx, please reference my blog entry: Spanx and Fried Chicken

8. Get to bed EARLY tonight! - I want to make sure I'm in tip-top shape for tomorrow's big day! (Well, that and I'm exhausted. Getting two hours of sleep two nights ago has OFFICIALLY caught up to me.)

Sooo... without further ado... good night! Happy Cupcake-Off Eve!!!!!

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

My First Group Run Experience... or Lack Thereof

A week and a half ago, I went to the farmer's market and stumbled across a stand for the American Cancer Society (ACS). They were there to talk about sponsorship/etc for their cause for upcoming half marathons and marathons. The sign is what initially drew me to their stand, because I figured I could use pretty much any and all the information I could get about training for this half marathon dealio.

These people turned out to be like the NICEST people ever, and about ten minutes after talking to them, I'd somehow agreed to coming to their next "fun run" group session on June 14th at 6:30 PM. Twist my arm, really.

Now, if you know me at all, you know that I am pretty staunchly against running in groups- primarily because I am S.L.O.W. Not only that, but there is no way that I'm going to be making any conversation with my fellow runningmates because I'm too busy gasping my way through a run... and chitchatting is the LAST thing on my mind.

Needless to say, I was more than a little nervous about this first group run of mine, but a commitment is a commitment and, quite frankly, I was kind of curious about how this was going to turn out. Anyway, the bus ride home from work was spent mentally pumping myself up for this group run. By the time I got home, I was actually getting kind of excited...

And/or terrified. Whatever.

I figured I might as well play the part of a "real" runner and guzzle down some water...

And sure, a cookie. Why not? It had oatmeal in it! And walnuts! Fuel, if you will.

So, there I was enjoying my second bite of oatmeal chocolate chip walnut cookie, when I decided to double check the time and place for this whole running group extravaganza.

Just as I thought... meet at Stanleys. Just as I thought... meet at 7:30...

Yeah- I hope you did a double take of that picture. Because I certainly did.

Immediately, my eyes darted to my DVR clock...

Big. Fat. Buzzkill. I mean, Stanley's is close enough but not SO close that I could get there in 7 minutes unless (irony of ironies) I ran there.
Which was so not going to be happening, let's be honest.

Sigh. It was such a gorgeous night though, that it wasn't too hard to convince myself to get outside and get my 3 miler on. 3 miler!! I know, right?!? I was PUMPED to be on my last week of this whole 5K-precursor-before-beginning-my-half-marathon-training schedule!

You know, it's kind of funny. After all this mental dread regarding this running group, I actually was genuinely disappointed that I missed out on this evening's group run. So disappointed, in fact, that I think I'm going to take it upon myself to find that ACS farmer's market stand this weekend to see when their next group run will be. (I mean, I already tried tweeting them about the next day/time of their group run, but have yet to receive a response. Hmmph.)

Who would've thought? Actually seeking OUT group run opportunities? I think those post-3 miler endorphins are still in high gear here...

Monday, June 13, 2011

the Mavs/Heat can make it into Girls' Night too, you know

I love last minute plans. As I've said before, this whole daily blogging business takes some SERIOUS work, if you are working at it as your "side" job. You know, it's not even the blog writing that takes up the most time for me. It's the sheer effort of having a very active LIFE. Hahaha. I mean, I'm a social person but a girl's gotta have her downtime.

Anyway, there I was working away, pondering what I was going to blog about tonight (yes, that's what my life has come to), when good old Alma's Gchat message came my way. God, I love Gchat... I mean, I love EVERYthing Google, but Gchat is one of the most amaz- no, no. That shall be another blog post for another time, my friends. I know you'll be on the edge of your seats.

Back to the point... So! With that fleeting Gchat conversation, plans for Monday night's blog were set! Off to Hub 51 for some wine and apps, we go!

It also certainly didn't hurt that I had a $25 gift certificate to Hub 51 to redeem.

Hahaha. You know what? It's so funny because I feel like this blog is making me sound like Deal CENTRAL! But I'm really not! I just happen to have had a LOT of deals/coupons/Groupons/promotions to which to attend in the recent past. And come on, the blog's gotta have SOME substance/general themes! Hahah. It all comes back to the blog, doesn't it? Sigh.

Anyway! I ended up getting to Hub 51 a little earlier than Alma, so I quickly snagged an open table by the bar and did what any other girl at a nice (albeit slightly frattastic) bar would do while she waited...

That's right. I picked up my book. And read. I guess that kind of defeats the purpose of being in a bar, but whatever. Can I help it that Julie Andrews' biography is just THAT interesting? I'm only at the part of her teenage, early career years... so how can I NOT be intrigued to see HOW she rises to fame and stardom (in the classiest of ways, mind you)?

Well. About four minutes into my book reading at Hub 51 (how's THAT for an oxymoron?), Alma breezed into the bar... and, well, forget about the book!

I mean, it had been a WHOLE THREE DAYS since we last saw each other! We had lots to catch up on! Hello.

Some topics included in the girl talk dishfest? Well... you would be VERY proud to hear that this whole Mavs/Heat game from last night made it into our conversation. For a whole two minutes and everything! But then... well, we had Pippa and Prince Harry to discuss (I mean, did you hear about how Pippa broke up with her boyfriend and was seen at a local pub with Prince Harry?!)... and Alma HAD to introduce me to the PopSugar app (which you better beLIEVE I will be downloading in the near future)... and, well, I don't know! The Mavs/Heat game can only be discussed for SO long, considering neither of us bothered watching it and were basing a fair amount of our conversation on... well, the Facebook status updates we'd seen dominating the news feeds during the game.

Sigh. Good times. At this point, what more can be said, really?

Sunday, June 12, 2011

I'm sorry, but is today Groundhog's Day?

Brunch and Groupon... you really can't go wrong with these two words.

The only thing with Groupon is that I get a little overeager and end up sitting on Groupons for things that, let's be honest, I really don't need. This is not my problem... it's this darn Groupon app. I mean, you literally just click BUY and all of a sudden you've purchased a massage, facial, personal trainer workout, movie tickets... well, whatever. I digress. And you probably just got way too much information.

Anyway, about six months ago, I purchased this Groupon for Bakin' and Eggs

Bakin' and Eggs is this fanTASTic brunch spot to which I had been introduced about a year ago. The food is pretty delish (nothing fancy, but solid brunching cuisine), the waits aren't horrendous, you can help yourself to coffee while you wait... and let's be honest, the dessert case isn't too difficult on the eyes.

So what better way to spend Saturday morning than by reuniting with an old Ohio State friend than through some discounted brunching, really? Haha. So... off to Bakin' and Eggs we went!

I don't know what it is about this place... I just feel so warm and cozy each time I visit. The food isn't so shabby either, who are we kidding here?

My friend, Arpana, ended up getting some sort of banana pecan bread french toast concoction (O.M.G. - I know, right? My thoughts exactly). I can't speak for Arpana's dish, but I think the picture (not to mention the mere TITLE of her dish) can speak for itself. All things good and pure in the world combined into one heavenly brunch meal... come on, you KNOW that's what you were thinking.

I opted for a more savory item and ended up with the cinnamon raisin egg white breakfast sandwich. MAN. You just can't go wrong mixing that salty with sweet. I think the secret to this dish is that it comes with a side of maple syrup... which you would think would taste kind of weird with my egg whites, but on top of my egg whites AND cinnamon raisin toast? Umm... divinity.

All in all, a solid brunch experience. Good food, FAB reunion, and obvi, you can't go wrong with fellow Ohio Staters. But that just goes without saying. Hence the aforementioned "obvi".

So, that was Saturday. Enter Sunday... and another brunch outing. Well, if I'm doing BRUNCH again, why not just go BACK to Bakin' and Eggs? I'm sure most of you would have had the exact same thought, really.

I don't know what it is. I just couldn't get enough. So when one of my other friends texted THAT suggestion for Sunday brunch, what? Was I going to turn it down? Please.

So... to Bakin' and Eggs we go! Again.

Welll, if we're recreating the whole Bakin and Eggs brunch experience, why not just...

That's right. Go ahead and order the exact. same. thing? Twist my arm- cinnamon raisin egg white breakfast sandwich (sans the cheese this time), it is!

Whatever. It is just. that. good.

Also ordered around the table were Jill's whole wheat oatmeal pancakes (that is SO what I'm getting next time I go... I swear I'll stray from the cinnamon raisin sandwich sooner or later), Sam's southern comfort bowl, and Al's good ol' fashioned eggs and potatoes.

Unfortunately, I didn't snap a picture of Sam's and Al's food, since they were sitting across the table and I didn't want to cause TOO big a raucous (especially considering this was Sam's first time meeting me... hello! If I'm not discretion personified, I just don't know who is. HA.)... but, oh whatever. Discretion, schmiscretion! Smile for the cam, Al and Sam!

I have to admit though. Becoming a regular at Bakin and Eggs (that's right- I've already deemed myself a regular) certainly has its perks. The host seating people yesterday was also there today... and totally recognized me!!! I was shocked! I mean, he seats so MANY people during weekend brunch... he HAS to be one of those people with a photographic memory.

BUT!! Not only did he greet me with a "Welcome back!" (sigh. Heartstring-tugging moment, if you will), he TOTALLY gave our table a complimentary bacon flight (one of the dishes on their menu)!

Now come ON! Even though I'm not the biggest bacon fan, how is that NOT thoughtfulness at. its. finest? As if the "Welcome back!" weren't ENOUGH!lksafdjlk!

Wellll, since the owner and I were totally now like family... what? You think I'm NOT going to snag a picture with him? Um. Please.

So, there you have it! My Saturday morning... my Sunday morning... and, let's face it, another weekend morning in the very near future. I am, after all, a REGULAR!!! I've always wanted to be one of those! You think I'm giving THAT title up easily?

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Burgers for a $1.50? Don't mind if I do...

Burgers for a $1.50?! That Twitter-headline making news is how I started off my Friday. And you know me... a sucker for pretty much any deal under the sun. I didn't really have an appetite for a burger but hey, for a $1.50 at RJ Grunts (a bar/restaurant which I had yet to try), I can MAKE an appetite.

At first, I was a little put off. I mean, burgers for a $1.50? Alarm bells quickly went off in my head... especially with all those recent unknown E. Coli strains hurry scurrying about the world. What can I say? Health and safety is my middle name.

But of course, thanks to the tweet by good old @nbcchicago (GOD, I love Twitter!), a link was included which thoroughly detailed that this was Lettuce Entertain You's 40th anniversary. Lettuce Entertain You is a company that owns a ton of seriously legit restaurants primarily in Chicago (RJ Grunts is one of them), and in honor of their 40th anniversary, they were rolling back the prices of burgers to the prices of 40 years ago...

Well, in honor of this whole attempt at daily blogging bit, I knew I had my entry for the day all ready and set. The thought of any sort of wait was the only reason I was still half-minded about going to RJ Grunts...

But it CERTAINLY didn't hurt that Lettuce Entertain You TOTALLY RETWEETED ME!

They clearly know the way into my heart. Who are we kidding here?

I figured I might as well just stop by RJ Grunts (it's literally less than half a mile from my place) at an "off hour" so I could avoid any waits.

Wrong-o. Even at the off hour of 3:30 PM, there was a wait! Not to mention a BUMPIN' live DJ already in FULL swing... who would've thought? Sigh. I decided to settle down at the bar for my 40th anniversary burger experience.

I totally felt like a food critic... I never usually go out to eat on my own, but hey, I needed a liberating experience (or something like that) and hello, some serious blog research was at hand here, people! Hahah.

YUM-O! Check out RJ Grunts' MENU!! So many OPTIONS! I was delighted!

And ALL for a $1.50?? Yowza burger it is (sans the bacon... I mean, I didn't want to keel over from an ACTUAL coronary right in the bar)! You better believe the thought of saving NINE whole dollars put an actual smile on my face. It was all rather ridiculous. But WOWZA (no pun intended... hahah)! Check out this YOWZA of a burger!

Juicy, delicious, ketchupy... all kinds of heaven wrapped up in one burger, if you will. Ironically, my appetite quickly developed upon my first bite. And it was totally worth it... every. last. bite.

And all for...

Weeeee!!! A $1.50 (plus tax)!!!!! Best anniversary celebration EVER!!!

As I was savoring each and every bite of my Wowza of a Yowza (like that one? Just thought of it all on my own. Hahaha), I also ended up chatting with one of the other guys at the bar who was eating on his own. You know me, Chicago ambassador, that I am. But this is exactly what I mean about my love for Chicago... you can TOTALLY chat with the stranger sitting next to you and feel like you've made a new friend. Midwestern charm and all that.

Well... okay, so seven hours later (yeah, yeah, I know- the Chicago ambassador can get carried away at some points), my new male twin/self-designated BFF Reggie and I were STILL seated at our barstools at RJ Grunts, chatting away. I think they should dedicate those barstools to us, really. A little plaque wouldn't hurt. Just a thought!

I mean, neither of us really knows what happened. It's one thing to be able to chat with a random stranger, but this dude was like my new MALE TWIN! I mean, come ON. When the dude said he loved Christmas... UMM! It was at this conversational juncture that I knew the BFFness was totally signed, sealed and DELIVERED.

Granted... I proceeded to then introduce him to the ridiculousness that can only be ChristIEmas, but whatever. I've never really had a filter, WHY would one suddenly magically develop at this point?

All in all, SUCH a FESTIVE NIGHT! RJ Grunts was alive and HOPPING the ENTIRE time... only getting busier (and thus more festive!) as the night progressed. At one point, I turned to my right and seated at the bar was this little old lady (she had to be in her 70s/80s), and... well, you know me and old people. Pitter patter SO GOES MY HEART! I nearly swooned (and wish I'd shamelessly snapped a picture, of course)...

And then there were these two men (mid-60s, I would guess) totally rockin' out to some of the DJ's blasts from the past...

And THEN we met a couple of the Lettuce Entertain You folks... whom I totally thanked for retweeting me. Appreciation meets shamelessness, if you will. Haha.

At the end of the day, I guess who can really say no to $1.50 burgers, a live DJ or a seriously festive anniversary celebration, for that matter?

Happy 40th Anniversary, Lettuce Entertain You! Cheers!