Thursday, April 28, 2011

My Boy's Birthday

Bama boy turned seven years young on April 5th. That's actually his made up birth date since he was adopted from a shelter and all they know is that he was born sometime in April. I chose that day because I like 5's. My birthday as well as my dad's is on the 5th, my wedding was on the 5th, and now the boy's birthday is on the 5th.
I am now a crazy dog lady and I love it. HAHA. It's a bit embarrassing how much I love this dog. I never in a million years guessed I would become a dog lover.. until I met Bama... and then it was truly love at first sight. Seriously, look at what a cute pup he is.
Here is the story of how we acquired Bama:

When M came to Chicago a year and a half ago he moved into an apartment with two guys, one being the owner of Bama. M warned me that when I came to visit him in Chicago there would be a dog there, which was okay since I really had no choice and my visits would be short. I mostly didn't like dogs because of all the hair and I was once traumatized by a neighbour's dog who pulled at my Halloween costume. Plus, sometimes they stink and have bad breath. I would often avoid walking close to dogs on sidewalks. You can actually read about how I did not want a dog here.

The first time I came to visit M, I don't know what happened, but I just loved his roommate's dog. I took Bama for walks, played with him a lot, and generally fell head over heels. When I skyped with M I always asked to see the dog too. Ha ha, I know how pathetic this sounds, believe me. I spent so much time with Bama when I was visiting that he'd be depressed for a few days after I left.

M's roommate worked really long/late/odd hours and painstakingly made the decision to give Bama to us to essentially give him a better life with more walks, more time outside, and more attention. It was a really hard decision for him to make and he misses Bama like crazy. I think it's a win-win situation though because Bama is happier now AND still gets to see his old owner quite often.
I am so so so so happy times a million that we found Bama and became his new owners. It really is a lot of responsibility having a dog but coming home to his love and affection each day makes it all worthwhile. Even on rainy days or when I have to walk him in -20C temperatures!
Bama is "the boy", also affectionately know as Bam, Bammie, Bamster, Bammers McGee, Bama Louie, Bama-lama-ding-dong, grey beard, precious, prince, and turtle (because of the way he lays, shown in the above picture). If Bama's old owner knew I called him some of those names or saw that I put a birthday hat on him, he'd surely take Bama back.

I told you I am a cRaZy dog lady.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011


Introducing the newest member of my fam!
My brother and sister-in-law had a baby girl in mid March. How exciting and what a cutie! The above pictures were taken by Brent Foster when the little babe was only a couple of weeks old.

Last week I finally got to meet her and it's so hard to believe how teeny tiny she is. It *almost* makes me want to have one of my own. Wait a minute...
My mom and I organized a baby shower to welcome the newest addition and I have to say I quite liked the idea of having the shower after the birth since so many of our family members were able to meet her!
Cake, of course. It was delish.
My niece looks a lot like my brother. Poor child :)
After the baby shower the boys and men of my family showed up to have Easter dinner. Oldest meets youngest here. My nephew was soooooo excited to meet his cousin.
The kids went outside for an Easter egg hunt and then..
back in for dessert. Orange sherbert. Wow, that stuff is magic. Quietest 10 minutes of the day!
That was the most family filled day I've had in a long long time!

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Hotlanta... Not So Much.

A few weeks ago M had a training session in Atlanta so I took some time off work and flew there to meet him for the weekend. Thank you MasterCard points for my free flight!

Although it wasn't "hot" in Atlanta, it was definitely warmer than Chicago and I busted out my flip flops and capris. On the first night I joined M and his colleagues at a bar where the beer was flowing, and I'm pretty certain I was the only sober one there. After a late night out I was happy to sleep in the next morning while M attended more training. Sucker! For I think the second time in my life, I ordered room service for breakfast. It was magnificent.
Why do so many restaurants in this country insist on covering everything with cheese? Does my egg white omelet really need a thick later of grease? I digress...

After M's training finished up on Friday afternoon, we headed to Piedmont Park, where we relaxed on a swing set overlooking the water while we made a game plan of what to see and when to see it. Since the weather was nice, we took the MARTA (holy terrible transit system) to the Martin Luther King, Jr. historic site and wandered around there for a while.
At some point over the weekend we walked around Little Five Points neighbourhood which is full of hippies and homeless people. I have never seen so many homeless people in such a small radius. I liked the little area in the picture below the best, with its outdoor seating around all of the restaurants. Very laid back atmosphere where I'm sure a lot of pot smoking takes place!
We decided to eat lunch at The Vortex, which is known for its no idiots allowed policy and good burgers that have been featured on Man Vs. Food. I thought my burger was tasty enough, but nothing extraordinary and it certainly wasn't as good as DMK :)
Over the weekend we also made it to a hockey game, Atlanta vs. Ottawa, with the Sens being defeated in a shoot out. We got amazingly good seats for $15 each. Ridiculous!
We took the CNN studio tour which was pretty interesting but rather short (45 min) for the admission price ($15). BUT, we did get to ride the world's longest freestanding escalator, so it made it all worthwhile!
We were also able to visit with M's friend for a night and he took us to the Brick Store which is a really cool pub, especially if you're a fan of beer. We sat upstairs in the Belgian Beer area and M was pretty much in heaven with the pages and pages of beers to select from. I was in heaven because I finally got to eat the fish and chips that I'd been craving for a long long time. Win, win. If I lived near Atlanta, I'd like to live in the area where this restaurant was - Decatur - so cute!

Kymani also came along with us and here he is at the Centennial Olympic Park which was used as the "town square" in the '96 Olympics, also the site of the bombings that took place that year.
Of the four American cities that M and I have travelled to in the last year (New Orleans, Philly, Nashville, and now Atlanta), Atlanta is our least favourite. I think the reasoning behind this is that there's nothing really special or different that distinguishes Atlanta from any other large city. It's not really known for any particular must try foods or tourist attractions, which makes it a bit blah, if I can be honest. Now, this isn't to say that I didn't have a great time or I didn't enjoy my Atlanta experience, it's just that it wouldn't be the first city I'd recommend people to visit!

ETA: I forgot to mention that Atlanta does house the Georgia Aquarium which is the world's largest aquarium with more animals than any other. This is a huge tourist attraction, but we'd recently been to the Shedd in Chicago and weren't interested in walking around another aquarium so soon. So there ya go, a redeeming quality for Atlanta!
Have you ever been to Atlanta and if so, what'd ya think?

Monday, April 11, 2011

Cocktails and Mocktails

One thing I've wanted to do since moving to Chicago is to go up to the 96th floor of the John Hancock Centre and enjoy a cocktail at the Signature Lounge.

In fact, M and I attempted to do so once but were faced with a huge lineup of Midwestern tourists wearing cowboy hats. We decided to try again another time.

When the BFF was visiting last week, we did exactly that. We hit up the Signature Lounge early and there was no line at all, in fact it was quite empty for a weekend. We got a table next to a window and enjoyed a nice view of Lake Michigan and the north end of the city.

Michelle ordered the Windy City Martini - Bacardi Limon, Grand Marnier, fresh lime and cranberry juice. It was s t r o n g and I'm pretty sure she was feeling good by the last sip :)
I had the Easy Street Martini made with pineapple, cranberry, and orange juice. I live on the edge and clearly, I should have ironed my shirt that morning.
Other than the crappy slow service, I'd recommend going up the tower and having an overpriced cocktail as part of the Chicago experience. It beats paying the $20 admission for the Hancock observatory plus you don't have to deal with hoards of people and crying kids.
Time to cross this goal off my 36 in 365 list!

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Half Baked

As of last Friday, baby is half baked!

(18 weeks) VS (20 weeks, 5 days)

I'm getting a little rounder and am actually beginning to feel pregnant! I'm very happy that I've only gained two pounds in twenty weeks, and the doctor's suggestion of 15-25 total pounds gained should be doable, if I can resist my current candy addiction! I bought my first few pieces of maternity clothing and can't wait to have a bump big enough to wear them!

I've been feeling tiny flutters in my belly for the past two weeks or so, but finally this weekend felt movement that was unmistakeably baby. Often its movements make me feel as though I'm on a roller coaster and my stomach is dropping out. Baby must be doing some major aqua aerobics in there.

M and I went to the twenty week anatomy ultrasound last week. Baby was sitting with its head at belly button level and it's bum near my pelvic bone, facing my back. This position did not make for pretty pictures and we wouldn't have been able to find out the gender even if we'd wanted to. Because its face couldn't be seen clearly, I'm being sent back for another ultrasound in a month so that this area can be checked out, making sure of no cleft palette. The baby's heart rate is supposed to get slower in the second trimester, but it was still clocking in around 150, compared to mid 160s in previous months. Girl for sure :) I actually have a feeling that it's a boy, but only time will tell, and I'm looking forward to this big surprise.

That's pretty much it for pregnancy updates. I've been feeling great and I'm super ecstatic that my bad acne has cleared up and I have enough energy to stay up past 9pm each night. Pregnancy suits me just fine *knock on wood*.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Second City Pizza Tour

This weekend my BFF was visiting me here in Chicago. When I saw a half off deal for a Second City Pizza Tour on I snatched it up, thinking it would be something fun for two pizza loving gals to do.
First stop on our tour was the original Giordano's on Rush Street where we ate a slice of cheese stuffed deep dish. Look at the obscene amount of cheese in one piece. Insane. I was not all that impressed to have to eat my pizza on the side of a street with homeless people walking by, asking for money to buy food. Awkward.
The second stop was at Gino's East, which I never knew, is full of graffiti! I liked the atmosphere of this place, even if the writing everywhere makes it a big grungy looking.
Here's my hugh jass piece of cheese deep dish. The cheese to sauce ratio is much different than Giordano's. At Gino's there's way less cheese and way more tomatoey rather than garlicy sauce, plus the crust is made with cornbread rather than white flour.
Honestly, deep dish of any kind is pretty much my least favourite type of pizza in the whole world. I don't think it should even be called pizza. To me, it's so heavy that it reminds me more of lasagna than anything else. There is just SO much cheese it's ridiculous. It hurts my arteries thinking about it. All of this doesn't stop me from eating it once in a while though!
Everyone asks what place in Chicago makes the best deep dish. I have to say that I preferred Giordano's when it was hot and Gino's when it was cold. So there, no clear answer for you! I think the all time best deep dish I've had was the first kind I ever tried at at Pizzeria Due.

Next stop was La Madia, a more upscale place that pairs pizza with wine. Now, this is my type of place! I'll have to stop back here when I'm not pregnant because the walls of wine were making me drool.
This pizza was amazing, although a bit too greasy, but definitely my favourite of the day. We tried three different kinds... triple pepperoni, goat cheese something, and mushroom something. This would be a nice date night place.
The last stop on the tour was State Street Pizza, which has a small eat in area, but is more of an order a slice at the take out window kinda place. We were so stuffed we took our pieces to go, but had a bite when we got home and honest to jeebus, it tasted like DIRT. It was some sort of spinach goat cheese pizza on whole wheat crust and even the husband who will eat anything said it was the worst pizza he's ever tasted.

I really cannot recommend taking the Second City Pizza Tour, mainly because of the steep $48/person fee. I don't even think it was worth the half off price that we paid, although it was a fun way to spend an afternoon. Basically the guide leads you to four different pizza joints, gives you maybe one or two pieces of information about each restaurant, then eats pizza with you. I'd say skip the tour and eat at La Madia for the same price, including cocktails!

I guess one good thing about the tour is that we took lots of leftovers home because there's no way you can eat that amount of pizza in such a short period of time!