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My two options for a seat on the train downtown this morning were next to a nearly-passed out, slightly smelly man who so kindly moved his brown paper bagged bottle of booze for me to sit down or a guy who was closing his eyes and rocking back and forth, mumbling. 

I remained standing.

She’s grateful.

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This is Luna Bell.  She has been my cat for 2 years.  I went to PetSmart a few months ago looking for a water bowl.  And not just any water bowl–a water bowl that would end her favorite past time of whacking it across the room the second it is filled, thus littering my kitchen floor with water and getting my feet wet every time I want a Diet Coke out of the fridge.  In other words, something heavy and skid resistant.  While I was at PetSmart, I was talking to a lady who was there with a pet shelter.  When I told her I had a “rescue kitty”, she started gushing about how grateful rescue pets are.  That no matter what happens, you just have a grateful animal on your hands.  Let me tell you about my grateful cat.

Luna Bell enjoys cocktail parties, wet cat food and sleeping at the top of my pillow (see above).  She hates beef, being cold and Justin Timberlake.  Since we started our life together in a studio apartment, she has to do everything with me, even though we’ve now hit the big time and live in a one bedroom.  She will only eat if someone is standing near her, she takes up half my pillow at night (again, see above–that was taken at 10pm yesterday) and I swear, when I was practicing yoga last night, she crawled on my mat and did a stretch that totally looked like downward dog. LB always lays with her chin flat on the ground or with her arms crossed, preferably on top of my Blackberry.  Ryan does nothing to help the cause–he feeds her canned cat food every Sunday and I once came home to the two of them sitting on the floor in the kitchen, sharing a can of tuna.  Oh and when the temperature in my apartment drops below 70, she digs her way under the covers so I can see is a Luna Lump in the center of my bed.

When it comes to being grateful, I think that’s me. Thanks, LB, for being my favorite friend under the weight of ten pounds.

On Treats

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I work way too close to The Goddess and the Grocer.

Aside from the fact that I have a hard time passing it by on my way to work because they carry my favorite coffee and a huge cooler case full of glorious things like macaroni and cheese lasagna, this Gold Coast gem has the audacity to have the most glorious.  The most decadent.  The most sinful rice crispy treat you will ever have.  These are not your Grandma’s rice crispy treats.  They are Crispycakes.  So much marshmallow.  So much butter.  So much chewy, gooey moistness.  And if that wasn’t enough, Crispycakes are topped with things like oreos, m&m’s, sprinkles, OR are cut in half and layered to make s’mores. Or PB&J crispycake’wiches.

I bought a not-so-plain Jane one on Thursday.  I cut it in half, thinking “I’ll be a good girlfriend and save the other half for Ryan.”  Then I cut a little more off of it.  Then I cut it in half again.  It got so small that Ryan would have never believed it had once been the size of a brick so I destroyed the evidence by polishing it off and calling it dinner.  I bought the fancy Crispycake pictured above today to have for dessert after our lasagna.  This time I will share.

I promise.

New Year, New ‘Do

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Confession:  I get my hair cut, like, twice a year.  It makes me nervous and generally, I like my hair long so I just figure as long as gravity keeps doing its job, I don’t need to be hyper-vigilant about getting haircuts.  Another thing–the lady who cut my hair in Muskegon charged me $18.  Going rate in Chicago hovers around $70.  But I was at the point last week where I wanted to pull my hair out of my head so it was time to make an appointment.

My boss and another co-worker rave about Kate and “the best haircut they’ve ever had” so I gave Mops Beauty Shop a shot.  I was offered water or cream soda upon arrival, cupcakes were on a pedestal, Rilo Kiley on the stereo and there was lots of magenta so I was pretty much sold American on this salon.  After about an hour using hair product I’m obsessed with and an “omg, I need to change my life starting with my hair” moment, I had an amazing cut.  And bangs.  Edgy, Zooey Deschanel bangs.  I was freaking out on the bus ride home (yes, I rode the bus TWICE this weekend, thus adding to my new mental image that I am edgy and fearless) but once I bought my new edgy hair some new, edgy lipgloss, I was super happy that I ventured out to Logan Square.  Kate comes with my very high recommendations.

Yoga Booty Ballet

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As part of my commitment to sweat once a day, I’ve been trying to take a lot of classes this week to get me rolling. Yoga Booty Ballet was my Tuesday class of choice.   Indigo Studio is the only place in Chicago where you can take Yoga Booty Ballet.  I didn’t realize what a big deal this was until I took a class taught by Indigo Studio owner JJ (Jaclyn Jones) and love, love, loved it.  JJ started taking yoga booty ballet in LA and was kind enough to bring it to the Windy City when she opened her studio (which is in this amazing loft space right off of the Brown Line Chicago/Franklin stop).

I had no idea what to expect from yoga booty ballet; I was anticipating a cardio hip hop class.  It turned out to be the perfect mix of meditation, dance, ballet and yoga.  I haven’t taken a dance class since my high school cheerleading camp days so I was pretty rusty but JJ’s energy was so infectious and once I let go of the misconception that my moves should be making me look like Beyonce, I had a blast.  And got an amazing workout.  I loved that the class ended like a yoga class–with savasana.  All in all, I would highly recommend that you check out Yoga Booty Ballet, if only because it’s so much fun to say.  No, for real–I had a blast and if I can burn calories for an hour in a way that is fun, strengthening, fun, calming, fun and goes by quickly, well then I think we have a winner.

High Five of the Day: The Chicago Plowing people.  We got a lot of snow last night but the streets and sidewalks are really clear and as I sit here at Starbucks, I see more and more plows go by.  Way to not let the snow get in our way.

Deeply Freezing

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Winter is in full force and, according to the Chicago Tribune, it is not letting up in the foreseeable future.  For the next week, we’re talking a high of 12.  Yesterday was just bitter, bitter cold.  I used to love that I worked where Michigan Ave meets Lakeshore Drive because of the awesome view of Lake Michigan but I am learning that it also means that awesome view provides a straight shot of Lake Michigan’s gusting winds.  Ugh.  I was almost blown over yesterday.

During a New Year’s Day round of Apples to Apples, my buddy Matt was talking about how cool it would be to be able to walk into a different season when you wanted, like head down the street if you wanted to surf or in another direction if you wanted to go skiing.  I would definitely spend a majority of my time in Fall.  Especially those amazing weeks when you can still go outside in a light jacket and the autumnal sun is that orangey-gold color.  That being said, I’ve been really enjoying the purpose winter serves.  I feel like the cold weather really slows me down and forces me to reflect.  Or at least clean my closet.  Let’s be serious–Chicago is just at the beginning of winter, I have months and months ahead of me to be stuck inside and goodness knows, I’m going need something to do.  I see lots of soup, hot tea, reading books I’ve been meaning to read for months,  and snuggling up with LB and my new blanket.

What is the season YOU would like to walk over to today?

High Five of the Day: Jim Noodle is a Thai restaurant/take-out place right by Ryan’s apartment that we go to more often that we should probably admit.  It’s so fast, so good and so close.  And Jim is the sweetest guy.  On New Year’s Day he gave me an orange with my order.  Bringing an orange into your home on New Year’s Day is symbolic of bringing in good luck.  Thanks, Jim Noodle.

Law of Attraction

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I am a big believer that what you send out into the universe will come back to you.  Eventually.  Or shortly.  I’ve seen both.

Today, I gave up my seat on the train to an elderly couple and a few hours later, the cashier at Trader Joe’s told me to go pick out a bouquet, any bouquet, of flowers that I wanted.  Boom.  Law of Attraction.

Some take longer.  A good friend of mine had, to say the least, a very challenging 2009.  Pretty much everything that could go wrong, did.  But she kept on keeping on and putting good stuff out there.  And while it took long enough (to those of us who were going “C’mon, give the kid a break!”), she is ending 2009 on a really amazing note, with some great things rolling her way.

Here’s the drill:  Basically, the law of attraction says our thoughts are like magnets.  As magnet attracts metal, we also attract our sub-atomic possibilities with thoughts.  The universal law of attraction simply states that we can be whatever we want to be, have whatever we want to have and get to wherever we want to go. This determines what develops out of our lives and of us. It’s all about focus. We become what we focus on becoming. We grow to be what we intend to be. And it encompasses everything.  Our work, our relationships and even our everyday hassles and errands.  We just gotta focus and that thing, whatever it is, is possible.

A year ago, I would have told you that this was a bunch of crap, as I was someone who was not living the life I’d imagined and was pretty bent out of shape about it.  I spent a lot of time strongly disliking where I was at and worrying constantly about where my life would end up.  And that got me a whole lot of the same stuff.  I’m not sure what caused the shift.  My life isn’t all of a sudden put together now. I don’t know exactly what I want, I haven’t “made it” by any means…but I’m dwelling in possibility.  Even if that means just putting one foot in front of the other better than I did yesterday, then I am slowly but surely elevating my life.  I like the idea that every day, I have the opportunity to grow my life and in turn, the lives of those around me.  So I’m going to keep throwing that out to the universe.  Because it feels better than the alternative.

High Five of the Day: My chum Corey is a writer who moonlights as a marketing manager/keeper of Floyd the LA-Z-BOY.  His blog makes my day pretty often and I’m willing to place bets will at least make you crack a smile.  Check it out.

The Best 24 Hours Ever

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This is the last holiday post, I promise.

I have been looking for the CTA Holiday Train since I saw it’s schedule while riding the EL home from work in late November.  It’s a train that is decorated with lights and bows and more lights and there’s even a flatbed where Santa and his sleigh ride.  It changes tracks during the month of December so it’s always on a different train line.  The day it was on the Red Line, I waited and watched 3 trains go by, hoping to see it.  No luck.  I figured that the Holiday CTA Train would pass me by this season.  But then, Lady Luck shined down on me last Tuesday.  I was hurrying home from work because i was hosting a cocktail party.  I was at the Fullerton Train Stop when I glanced over at the Purple Line waiting on the other side.  There it was.  It was no longer just a regular CTA train; it was a CTA train that Christmas had thrown up on (see above picture).  I flew out of my seat, grabbed my camera and started explaining to everyone around me how amazing it was, how I had been waiting all month to see this glorious display of Christmas spirit (definitely not my coolest moment in life)…and then doors shut.  I had been so excited to soak in the festiveness that I didn’t even think to get on board.  Damn.  Next year, I suppose.  I was still really, embarrassingly, overly excited.

Then, a mere 19 hours later, I saw Vince Vaughn.   Again, not my coolest moment.  I tried so hard to play it cool but it was freaking Vince Vaughn!  Honestly, for the first 3 months of our relationship, all Ryan and I did was quote Wedding Crashers and we just watched Four Christmases last weekend.  Vince (yes, since he wished me a Merry Christmas, I can call him Vince) came into my place of employment with his fiancee and he was tall and had not shaved in days and was much more attractive than I thought he was.  I definitely gawked but omg.  It was Vince Vaughn.

I’m off to try to become a version of myself that doesn’t jump up and down and giggle when I see things that excite me.

Repeat the Sounding Joy

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After a 5 hour drive from Chicago to Muskegon and lots of icy roads later, Luna Bell (super cat), Ryan and I were home for the holidays.  Brooklyn Bagels with my BFF (a 7 year old tradition), visits with old friends, reading the Polar Express and the Night Before Christmas on Christmas Eve, crab cakes and crab soup (a brand new, now-permanent tradition), champagne and pomegranate…I can truly say this was a holiday of the best kind.  I am so unspeakably blessed and while I try so hard to be grateful 365 days a year, I must admit that I am singing out my gratitude abunduntly during this season.  Jesus, my family, my dear friends, my co-workers, my kitty, my home, my job, God-winks, my health…I am grateful and humbled beyond belief.

Merry, merry Christmas to you all.  I send you my most sincere wishes for a prosperous, happy, and giggle-filled New Year!

High Five of the Day: Zuzu: [after a bell on the tree rings] Look, Daddy. Teacher says, every time a bell rings an angel gets his wings.

Great New Eats

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It’s been a while since I posted about one of my favorite Chicago past times: eating.  This weekend was a score for a foodie like me and I would highly recommend both places.

Friday Night: Fresh Sushi and Noodles on W. Wellington, right under the El.  I walk by this place every day on my way home from the train and have always wanted to try it.  It was sleeting and gross when I was leaving the gym and after a long day of cookie baking, the idea of cleaning up to go out to eat sounded terrible so I stopped by Fresh to grab some sushi for a little stay-in night party.  Fresh is super cute inside (kinda trendy even, which is rare for a random, teeny sushi place) and had a really unique selection of rolls.  The standards were all there (solid spicy tuna) but also some really inventive ones, like the Frutie Tootie roll–crab and whatnot inside and SLICED STRAWBERRIES on the top of the maki covered in a blueberry sauce.  It may sound kinda wrong with the fruit but trust me, it was INCREDIBLE.  I can’t wait to go back and actually eat there–on top of there being fruit sushi, it’s BYOB.  I mean really–everybody wins.

Saturday Night: La Madia.  Ryan’s buddy Josh works there and again, we’ve always been meaning to try it.  We were shopping downtown on Saturday and finally got the chance.  It was the perfect choice–we were tired from shopping and not willing to fight the crowds on Michigan Avenue anymore, for shopping OR food, so being a few blocks off the Mag Mile was perfect, as was the “Not-So-Old Fashioned” that Ryan had.  Josh made the perfect drink–Maker’s Mark, Wild Turkey Honey, tangerine and brandy soaked cherries.  I don’t even like whiskey and I thought it was awesome.  The Pizza Fondue was amazing too–this huge puff of bread that you stab and it deflates so you can dip it in a cream infused marinara that tastes like a perfectly light vodka sauce.  I think it was meant for a crowd but Ryan and I housed it between the 2 of us.  We’re good like that.

All in all, it has been such a treat to have time.  Time to bake if I feel like it, time to try out new restaurants, time to spend with people I care about.  Tonight, I’m taking the time to make a little Christmas risotto.  Stay tuned…

High Five of the Day: The guy who proposed while he and his girlfriend were getting their picture taken with Santa at the 900 N. Michigan building.  I heard clapping so I ran to see and sure enough, this guy was down on one knee with a ring.  One of Santa’s helpers told me how it went down: Santa asked the girl what she wanted for Christmas and when he asked the guy, he said “For so and so (insert name here) to marry me” and that’s when I saw the kneeling and the ring.   With all those people around and Santa and cameras…that was pretty gutsy.  And super sweet.  What a great story!