April 30, 2013

Chasing Daylight

Neighboring tracks at sunset

Finally. The moment that I’ve been waiting for is here: we hit 80 degrees in Chicago today! Though I spent most of the day cooped up in an office cubicle, we raced home right after work to take advantage of the balmy weather and enjoy the start of a great, and hopefully long-lasting, outdoor season. 

Fresh fruit sangria, ready to be served al fresco in his and her mermaid-marked glasses
Work in progress: dusted-off balcony chairs and table ready for flowers and candles
The most delicious jerk chicken EVER, courtesy of this recipe
Evening stroll to the garden site to decide if I want to switch plots (chances are good--details to come!)

April 26, 2013

Happiness Inc.

I’m convinced that the eternal quest for “happiness” is an American construct, yet I can’t seem to shake my interest in the topic.  If the sudden crop of documentaries and articles on the subject are any indication, neither can anyone else in this country. As a self-professed lover of mainstream self-help books, and the recent victim of a car crash that tested my patience on an all new level, I feel compelled to share the following positive takeaways with those of you who aren’t regularly indulging yourself in all of the rhetoric:
  • You have a natural mood “set point” that determines your general level of satisfaction or happiness on a day-to-day basis
  • There are external factors that can influence your “set point,” including the relationships that you form within your immediate community
  • Committing infrequent acts of kindness towards others can help you to feel happier, but only to the extent that they do not feel forced or obligatory
  • Comparing yourself to others will likely only result in misery
  • Unhappy people typically rationalize things more, and they tend to indulge in unproductive mental exercises more than happy people
  • Breaks are incredibly important in helping people to restore life balance and gain perspective (did I mention that I can't wait to leave for Europe in less than 2 weeks?!)
That said, have a very happy weekend, and I'll look forward to seeing you next week!

April 25, 2013

C'est La Vie


My sister, boyfriend and I are gearing up for an upcoming visit to the British Isles, and we decided to dedicate our one spare day in London to a side trip to Paris. Though my five years in French classes will undoubtedly fail me while we’re there, my appreciation for stripes, red lipstick, cheese, fine wine, the Eiffel Tower and macarons certainly will not.
We are doing the entire three-week trip with one carry-on bag, thus I can’t promise that I’ll be the most stylish among the street crowds. Regardless, I do know that I’ll be spending my fair share of time people-watching and living vicariously through all of the gorgeous, European women in our midst. 


April 24, 2013

Ice Pack

My boyfriend grew up in Waukegan, Illinois, home to a segment of the Des Plaines River Trail. When we’re strapped for time but feeling the need to escape, we head over and go for a walk (last year’s snow-less visit featured here).  
Though we did not anticipate the treacherous ice pack that claimed most of the stretch, we didn’t let it stop us from exploring. In fact, it added to the solitude of the excursion, which was interrupted only by the sounds of woodpeckers and the lone train that slowly made its way down the nearby tracks.  

April 1, 2013

Holiday Hiatus

A sweet early morning surprise for my boyfriend

This Easter, we strayed from our normal family-oriented holiday routine and took advantage of the emptied-out city to accomplish a few things that we otherwise wouldn’t have been able to do. We’ve been meaning to check out Stephanie Izard’s The Girl and the Goat ever since we received a gift certificate over a year ago, but getting reservations seemed impossible. After much strategizing, and with no reservations in hand, we decided to take our chances and boldly wander in on Sunday afternoon after the Book of Mormon show concluded.  We were immediately seated and treated to a rustic series of dishes that truly lived up to the hype that the restaurant has so clearly earned. Other highlights of the holiday weekend included…

Lunch visit to Quonset, the best pizza shop in the northern suburbs
Clever advertising in the entryway at Bank of America Theater
Party favors for an opening day game party
Lusting after chicken wire-clad pendant lamps at Jayson Home & Garden