Thursday, February 28, 2013

Favorite Things

Is it just me, or has this seemed like the longest. week. ever?  Between lots of non-work related work, a big snowstorm (with more on the way tonight), it's been a little crazy.  In thinking of something to post today, I decided to share a few of the simple things that have been bringing some calm into my life this week.

It's tough to see in the photo, but I spent part of last
weekend decluttering my half of our closet.  I thrive on
being organized :)
the view on my commute - not too shabby.
(not pictured: beautiful lake michigan to the left).
my "K" bracelet - a christmas gift from a friend

my new nail polish, essie's "butler please".  it's a bright
blue, and my new color of the season.  (and apparently
very hard to find - scott tried one target, and i tried an
ULTA plus two targets before i tracked it down!)

my mom gifted me this candle the last time she stayed at our condo,
and it has quickly become my favorite - it burns cleanly, and makes the
whole condo smell amazingly for hours after i've blown it out.

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

GPOYW: Warby Parker Edition

My coworker had a few pairs of glasses he was trying out from the new and hip eyewear designer, Warby Parker, and I tried on a pair.  These are technically for men (they are the "Wiloughby") but I'm pretty smitten with them.

Have you heard of Warby Parker?  My mom told me about them (and their super cool business model) a few months ago, and now they've been cropping up everywhere.  Warby Parker is like a cross between Zappos and TOMS, but for glasses.  It's like Zappos because it's free shipping, home try-on and returns, and it's like TOMS because they have a "buy a pair, give a pair" business model.   Plus the glasses are super cute.  Win-win-win if I do say so myself.

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Restaurant Review: Cheesies

I bought a Groupon last Friday for a newish gourmet grilled cheese bistro in our neighborhood, called Cheesies.  Scott and I drive past it all the time, and for the past few months we'd been wanting to go.  The Groupon put me over the edge... it was a good deal - $17 for two grilled cheese sandwiches, two cups of soup, two domestic beers, and a shared side (a $40 value!)

Anyway, Scott and I went over the weekend and it was good.  I ordered the Napoleon which featured bacon and hot sauce, and Scott got the Classic, which had ham and bacon.  Scott wasn't wild about his, but I loved mine.  Scott's main gripe was the bread - there was too much of it, and it wasn't that good.  (I agree). The portion sizes were ginormous - we each brought home half of more of our meals.   Anyway, we liked Cheesies, and were glad to finally check it out.

Monday, February 25, 2013

Red Pants

I've had my eye on a pair of red leggings for several months now, and have even "visited" them three or four times.  I wear 50% black, and 50% denim, white, grey and blue, so while I was drawn to them because of the vibrant color, I also know myself and questioned how much wear they would actually get.

After contemplating them, I finally decided to pull the trigger late last week, and I practically lived in them this weekend.

lounging around the house
movie night on saturday (we saw "identity thief" and liked it quite a bit!)
running errands outfit on sunday (target + grocery store)
sunday afternoon chores
So far I'm loving the bright color, and while they aren't exactly the "go with anything" attitude that their black counterparts might have, I'm loving the unexpected change.

Sunday, February 24, 2013

Photos from a Week

What a great week.  There were nights that involved DVR and quiet reading at home and nights that were out with BYOB Thai food.  Monday held my first outdoor run in 2013... followed by Tuesday's 6 degree weather.  (Boo Chicago weather).

Here are a few snapshots, shown mostly through my Instagram lens:

finally reading through a stack of magazines (this one was from October - gulp)
contemplating a new pair of Warby Parker glasses
BYOB crab rangoons on Thursday night
K + S chalk "art"
gorgeous flowers at Whole Foods
beers and gourmet grilled cheese on Friday night

Saturday, February 23, 2013

Video of the Day: Chatterbox Edition

I stumbled upon this video, and spent the entire six minutes absolutely grinning.  A warm and fuzzy for this Saturday morning!  (Also, I wish I would have put one of the questions - "what's on your bucket list?" - as one of the questions in the Interesting Person Interview Series.

What's on your bucket list?  My top three are to visit Paris, to become a mom, and to be a published author.

Friday, February 22, 2013

Interesting Person Interview Series: Christine Edition

I'd like to introduce you to my amazing cousinfriend Christine.  I was planning to "introduce" you to Christine, but I have re-written the introduction no less than five times - and Christine summed it up much better than I could in her answer to #2 (below).  I will say (again) that everyone should have a Christine in their life.  

Her interview, after the break:

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Quote of the Day: Important Days Edition

2) Try a new food that makes me squeamish

Scott and I had been wanting to check out a restaurant in Chicago called "Bread & Wine" for quite a while.  We drive past it on the way to the suburbs, but it's far enough away from our neighborhood that it isn't super high on the list when we're considering an impromptu date.  Restaurant Week provided the perfect excuse.

There was a set menu as part of the Restaurant Week promotion, but being a not-so-adventurous eater, I decided to skip it and go with something a little more.. tame.  Scott took advantage of the set menu, and for his first course he selected beef tongue.  (!!!)  When it arrived, it looked like undercooked meat, but since it was paired with leafy greens, mustard and onion crisps, I was somehow cajoled in to trying a bite.

The result? I can't say I enjoyed it (I didn't) but I survived and now I can check this off the list! 

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Twenty Nine By 29 - 1/2 way point!

A little late on this post, but I'm halfway to twenty-nine and that means it's time to evaluate my list and refocus on the remaining items.  Here's a summary:

1) Visit Europe Venice 8/31-9/4Florence 9/4Rome 9/4-9/6

2) Try a new food that makes me squeamish 
I had the chance during Chicago's "Restaurant Week" but have yet to blog about it.  Stay tuned..

3) Finish my blog-biography
Making progress.  I have about two years left to go!

4) Run a half marathon
I am registered for Chicago's Rock and Roll 1/2 Marathon in July and running 3-5x a week in preparation.  

5) Submit a piece of writing to something, somewhere
I've done exactly nothing for this goal.  I need to make it happen in the my second half of 28.

6) Cook an awesome meal in my own kitchen (with no helpers) 2/14/13

7) Roast marshmallows around a bonfire
We had plans to do this last August, but life and other plans got in the way.  My parents gave Scott and me camping gear for Christmas last year (including a two person sleeping bag, oohlala!) and we're dying to go camping with them.  Once this happens, marshmallows and a bonfire will occur.

8) Travel to a part of the US I've never been (Boston, St. Louis, Seattle, etc).  St. Louis 10/20/12
Done (technically). I went to the St. Louis area for Jill's October wedding, and it was lovely.  We were in St. Charles which is 30+ miles South of St. Louis and just picturesque.  I'd love to visit another area this year, so while this goal is technically completed, I wouldn't mind adding to it. 

9) Master a yoga position
I've been running more this year than in year's past, so yoga has kind of taken a back seat.  I would like to get back in to it, and I have the position to master picked out :)

10) See a country concert
Oh this will be fun.  I need to do this.

11) Dance in the rain
I need to do this!

12) Interview a series of interesting people for this blog Melissa 2/8/13My Mom 2/15/12
This has been a really fun (and ongoing!) blog goal.  I have the next couple weeks finalized, but would LOVE more people to be featured.  Feel free to visit the links above and submit your answers to theyearofthekate @!  They will be posted on some upcoming Friday :) 

13) Take a dance class
Oh man.  I need to do this.  I have a couple of good friends that take dance classes regularly, and I'd like to start joining them.

14) Watch the sunrise and the sunset
Whoopsie.  I've only had daily chances for the past six months.  :/

15) Perform a random act of kindness
I have some ideas, but haven't yet acted on them.

16) Take a picture by the Iowa and Illinois state borders/signs
Yes - this will be fun (and slightly embarrassing).

17) Take a boat ride Water Taxi 8/31Gondola 8/31, Venice Tour BoatArchitecture Tour

18) Finish watching Mad Men 12/1/12

19) Host a theme party 8/24/12

20) Go to New York with Scott
This one might not happen.  I've been to NY at 28, and Scott's likely going in May for his sister's graduation, but I am not sure that we'll be going together this year.  The summer is filling up already, and if we have time for a trip (a second anniversary getaway, perhaps!) then I'd probably rather go somewhere we haven't been.  Hmm.  

21) Complete the 30 day ab challenge
This is upcoming.

22) Pay off our car 10/12/12

23) Participate in Fantasy Football Fall 2012

24) Go skiing
Well crap.  Ski season is almost over.  We considered doing this on New Years Eve 2012, but due to some lingering knee issues for Scott, we decided against it.  So, now I should probably swap in a new goal for this one.  I'll think on this! 

25) Bake/cook something from my grandma's "From Thy Bounty" cookbook  11/12/12

26) Run 5+ races (more than I ran at 27)
I have already run two of the five - the Firefly Run 10K and the Hot Chocolate 5K.  I'm also already registered for the remaining three - the Shamrock Shuffle 8K the first weekend in April, the Chicago 1/2 Marathon in July, and the Rugged Maniac (with my parents!) the first weekend in August.  There are really fun themed races almost every week here in Chicago, so I'm guessing I'll add another couple races to the tally (Beer and Burgers 5K, Undie Dash, Beach Dash, etc). 

27) Take a spontaneous trip
I can't plan to do this, or it won't be spontaneous.  But I'll keep the idea on my radar.

28) Take my mom out to dinner (just the two of us)
This one will be pure fun.  I need to get this scheduled! 

29) Plan (and execute!) a surprise for someone
:)  (And that's all I'm going to say about this).

Looking at this list overall and there is about half left to do (on the bright side, I think that means I'm pacing well, eh?) but they look mostly attainable and I have renewed my focus on getting some of them cranked out.  

Thanks for reading! 

GPOYW: Accessories Edition

Not the most flattering of photos, but it sure featured my newest favorite accessories - anchor earrings and an Iowa necklace (with a heart over my hometown).

Sunday, February 17, 2013

Photo of the Day: Blue Edition

I'm not sure about you, but I prefer my whiskey to match my politics.  And my nails.

Saturday, February 16, 2013

6) Cook an awesome meal in my own kitchen

Number six on my Twenty Nine by 29 list is to cook an awesome meal in my kitchen with no helpers, and on Valentine's Day (as Scott's Valentine's miracle gift) I did just that.

In January, it occurred to me that I should make Scott a meal in lieu of a Valentine's Day gift.  I mentioned that to my mom, and she suggested a recipe that she knew of for a relatively easy version of chicken enchiladas.  My objective was to make something that was relatively easy, but had a component that was just outside of my comfort zone.  This fit the bill.  The bulk of the recipe was easy-peasy, but I'll admit that I've never made chicken, and the thought was scary to me... and yes, gross.

Anyway, I did it.  And it was both delicious and edible (the double whammy).  The recipe I worked from is here.  In true "chef" fashion, I made a few modifications, and would modify further next time (jalepenos could make a nice edition, and I'd likely add more sauce).


a side of guacamole to butter-up scott's taste buds
finished product
Number six is ticked off the ol' list.. and more importantly: happy Valentine's Day, Scott!  

Friday, February 15, 2013

Interesting Person Interview Series: JLS Edition

This week I'm thrilled to share my interview with Jen, known around these parts as Saint Mom.  In addition to being a loyal blog reader and commenter, she's been my lifelong encouraging editor, constructive critic, and biggest fan.  I owe my appetite for reading and writing to her, my first reader (both in life, and on this blog).  Her interview after the break:

Monday, February 11, 2013

on rihanna and chris brown, violence and forgiveness

The Grammys were last night, and I watched because I love music.  And musicians.

Within the first five minutes of the show, the camera zoomed in on Rihanna, sitting directly next to Chris Brown.  Two hot artists, romantically linked for years, attending the most prestigious award show for their industry.

Four years ago this week - the night before the 2009 Grammys -  Chris Brown physically assaulted Rihanna, beating and bruising her.  And while none of us know the specifics of what happened at or after the pre-Grammy party they were attending, the pictures and police reports don't lie:  Chris Brown abused her.

For a while after the incident, the public outcry drowned out any pro-Chris Brown news or accolades.  I personally vowed to never pay another cent towards Chris Brown or his music.  Chris Brown hatred was loud, and Rihanna was a simultaneous victim and heroine, an unwitting flag-waver for victims everywhere, her silent grace screaming against domestic abuse louder than any PSA ever could:  abuse can happen to anyone, anytime.  And it's not the victims fault.

I respected that she kept her feelings to herself, and her mouth shut, publicly at least.  The bright lights of Hollywood shine harshly, and before that day in February 2009, she and Chris Brown were a powerful couple at the pinnacle of their careers, with endorsements and magazine covers and Billboard Top 40s. I imagine that in the days and weeks that followed her assault her feelings were conflicted and wavering.  Love and hate.  Fear and desire.  Shame and pride.

I'm not sure when, but at some time in the past four years, public opinion has turned.  While most people would say that his actions were unforgivable, it seems that he's been forgiven: at this very moment, he has a song in the iTunes Top Singles, and he was nominated for at least one Grammy.  Forgiveness happens in a number of ways.

Seeing Rihanna and Chris Brown sitting together, cuddling and holding hands tonight made me sad.  To me, domestic violence is unforgivable, and the effects are long lasting and the scars permanent.  And while physical abuse is never, ever, ever the fault of the victim - seeing Rihanna, so clearly smitten with her abuser scares me.  Saying that out loud makes me a little mad - at myself.  I believe in a woman's right to choose - and not just about reproduction.  The only one that can decide if Chris Brown deserves her forgiveness is Rihanna.  She is the only one who gets to decide about her relationship.  And I know that the feelings are complicated and confusing and nowhere near black or white, wrong or right.

Chris Brown and Rihanna  have said that their relationship is "nobody's business", which is (not?) coincidentally the title of a song that they recently collaborated on.  But I wonder if this is entirely true.  While I respect the privacy that we all deserve - celebrities included - I also wonder how far the right to privacy extends.  Their relationship played out publicly because of who they are and what they do, not despite it.  And while they certainly have the right to make choices that the public disagrees with, the career and lifestyle they have chosen - and embraced with magazine interviews, sit-downs with Larry King and Barbara Walters - invited the public in.

So while I'm not  entirely comfortable with their relationship, I begrudgingly accept the reality - it's none of my business.

But how I spend my money is.  And while Rihanna seems to have forgiven Chris Brown, I haven't, and I'll still never spend a single penny on his music, any film he is in or magazine where he is on the cover.

Sunday, February 10, 2013

on Argo

Scott and I saw Argo last night (about two months later than the rest of the world).  It was good.  Really, really good.  As we left the theatre, I turned to Scott and said "now THAT'S a movie".  I gravitate toward fluff (exhibit A) and this was meat-y and true(ish) and just rock solid.  If you haven't seen it, I'd encourage you to.  It was worth the theatre sticker price.

If you haven't seen it, a quick summary from a spot-on IMDB review:

Argo follows the unbelievable true story of six Americans that have found shelter with the Canadian ambassador in Iran when the revolution reaches a boiling point. The CIA works alongside some heavy hitters in Hollywood to create a fake film production to concoct a risky plan to try and get them out of the country.

It was a movie that made me think.  Over the past 24 hours, I've thought about Tony Mendez.  The kind of bravery and just... guts that he had.  Wow.  And even if you could summon up the courage to board a flight and make a rescue attempt, the cool demeanor and calm levelheadedness that would be required to successfully complete the rescue mission?  Unbelievable.  That's the kind of guy that you want in the trenches when trouble is brewing.

There's more to say, but for now - go watch Argo.

Snapshots of a Week

I have a love/hate relationship with Instagram.

I love that it's been getting me to take more pictures - I'm inspired by the filters and hashtags.  I hate that it's been getting me to post more pictures on Instagram, fulfilling my social-media need so I've been an absentee blogger.

Here are a few snapshots of the past week, seen mostly through the lens of Instagram:

the only redeeming thing about winter-weather: my red snowboots

fashion, pre-super ball party at the Jeffers'

much needed glass of vino after work one night last week
... and much needed whiskey shots shortly thereafter (don't judge me)
live music at Curragh in Edison Park (it was Scott's guitar teacher, hence the facial expression)
skyline view at the Webster movie theater, where we saw Argo on Saturday 
blue toes, red wine
sunday detox via the grocery store

Saturday, February 9, 2013

Quote of the Day: Fast Edition

"It is a mistake to think that moving fast is the same as actually going somewhere" - Steve Goodier

Friday, February 8, 2013

Interesting Person Interview Series: Melissa Edition

My friend Melissa is up!  She's one of my most loyal blog readers and commenters, and among the first people I shared the URL with when I first started my blog.  Without further ado:

Saturday, February 2, 2013

Quote of the Day: Wise Edition

"You don't have to be old to be wise" - Judas Preist

Photos of the Day: Three's Company Edition

I am blessed with two of the best friends a girl could ask for, and while we don't live in the same town (damn geography) we've still kept a tight friendship for a decade this year.

Friday, February 1, 2013

Interesting Person Interview Series: Kate

For my 29 by 29 list, #12 is to interview a series of interesting people for my blog, and I think it's time I start that off with... me :)  I've emailed a few of my most loyal blog readers and commenters, so those are coming.  In the meantime, I'd LOVE for a few others to fill out the questions below!  If you're interested, simply email me the answers to the questions below (to theyearofthekate @!  

Here goes nothin':