Thursday, July 24, 2014


Ebert and I are headin' to Nashville for the weekend. We'll be visiting some friends who recently moved there from LA. It's great having friends from our LA days, which seems like a lifetime ago, on the same side of the country as we are. We're hoping the drive is easy so we can visit them often. They just had a baby too, so we're super excited to meet their little guy. This will be my first time in Nashville. Any suggestions on things to do and places to eat?

Checking one more thing off the list. Summer…you're absolutely the best!

Monday, July 21, 2014

poland highlights - part two

I can't believe that a month ago today Ebert and I were arriving in Krakow. I can, however, believe that it's taken me this long to share more photos from our trip. There's always some reason for a delay. Eventually I'll stop procrastinating and just get to it.

Anyway, this is the first picture I took in Krakow and it's the distance I traveled on a bus from the plane to the terminal. Enough said, right?

Our friends live in Chrzanow- a small town about 45 minutes outside of Krakow.

This is the main market square and several different views of it from our hotel room. Depending on the time of day, and I'm sure the weather, it was either really busy or really quiet. The nice thing about the square is that there are two outdoor restaurants serving beer and food. You can see the huge umbrellas of one of the restaurants in the following pictures. The other restaurant also had gigantic umbrellas and, from the first picture, is up the stairs to the right. I really should have taken a panoramic of the entire square. Looking back on all my pictures I wish I would have taken more pictures in general, but at the time I thought I was taking plenty. It's funny how that works- I want to see every detail from pictures and not just rely on the images from my memories.

This is a view of the square from the other restaurant.

The streets of Chrzanow. I just love the pops of color in this photo.

A quaint garden we came across on a walk.

Friends since they were 7-years old.

The park. As you can see from the picture the park is very green and full of these lush, tall trees. The funny thing is that they have this beautiful park but you aren't allowed to walk on the grass…

You have to walk on the cobblestone path. There are a crazy amount of pigeons in the trees so this is probably a good thing. It's still pretty to walk thru though.

There are only two hotel options in Chrzanow. We stayed at the Hotel Platan, conveniently located right in the main square. It was clean, comfortable, very affordable and served a delicious European style continental breakfast. We would definitely recommend this hotel to anyone staying in the area.

I could go for this refreshing summer beer right now. It finally got warm enough to sit out on the square. Ebert and I could have spent all afternoon under those umbrellas just drinking beer, reading, and people watching.

These two I tell you…I just loving seeing them together.

Wujek (uncle in Polish and what Gabi affectionately called Ebert) could always make Gabi laugh.

And just look at her smile!

Next up…highlights of our time in Krakow!

Sunday, July 20, 2014

raw food cleanse: day 3

I finished my 3-day raw food cleanse Friday night. I decided to end it Friday night rather than Saturday morning because Ebert and I had an impromptu date night. We went out to dinner and then saw a friend in a play. I didn't want to rush back into eating "normally" right away so we dined at a vegan restaurant called Native Foods. We've eaten there before and the food is really tasty. I don't feel bad about ending the cleanse early because I still ate very clean even though I did have some cooked food - there was seitan in my salad, as well as some cooked veggies and we did order a side of sweet potato fries and they were oh so good. I didn't eat any animal product, sugar, or drink alcohol so I feel pretty great about that. Like I mentioned the other day the only thing I really missed was being able to eat cooked food. Ok, and maybe I missed drinking a little bit. It's not that I drink excessively, it's just nice to have a cocktail or a glass of wine at night.

I won't go into detail about what I ate on Day 3 because basically it was the same as Day 1 and Day 2. I didn't feel like making a variety of food since I was only doing a 3-day cleanse, it was much simpler to eat a variation of the same thing. Besides not eating cooked food this cleanse was not that different from how I eat on a regular basis. I think I would need to do a longer cleanse to see definite changes. It did feel great though to commit to something and finish it. I would like to continue to focus on eating more healthy, this is always a goal of mine. I feel like I go through cycles of taking really good care of my body and then other times just not caring at all. I would like a healthy body through a good diet and exercise to be a constant. That's definitely a goal of mine this year.

Thursday, July 17, 2014

raw food cleanse: day 2

I really like cooked food. This is what I've come to realize from Day 2 of this raw food cleanse. There are just some foods that taste better cooked, like broccoli. I tried eating raw broccoli today but it doesn't taste as good as when it's steamed or roasted.

This morning was similar to yesterday morning. When I woke up I took a teaspoon of Apple Cider Vinegar, then drank a glass of warm lemon water and, yes, I did drink coffee again. I'm weak. I know it, but coffee is just so good. Then, I drank a green smoothie. I forgot to mention yesterday that I also had a green smoothie for breakfast. My go-to green smoothie consists of spinach, a banana, mango pieces, water and coconut oil. It's a simple and delicious recipe.

I didn't have a mid-morning snack today, but lunch was similar to yesterday - cauliflower rice, kale, but I added raw broccoli instead of an avocado. And this is when I realized that cooked broccoli is more delicious than raw broccoli. I ate an apricot, raw nuts and some raisins for my afternoon snack. I was feeling particularly hungry this afternoon so I ate way more for my snack than I did on Day 1. I think this was because I didn't drink as much water as I did yesterday. I have a tiny bladder so I hate having to go to the bathroom every half hour, it gets annoying. I know that's a terrible reason for not drinking more water, but it's the truth.

I wasn't feeling very motivated to make anything new for dinner especially since I had so many leftovers from yesterday so I pretty much ate the same thing as I did yesterday - cauliflower rice sans kale but with an avocado, sauerkraut, and some cucumber salad. I was still feeling a bit hungry so I also ate some cherries and strawberries. I feel pretty satiated right now. I'd say the main thing that I'm craving is a drink. I sound like a lush but really it's because it's the perfect summer evening for a cocktail. One more day to go.

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

raw food cleanse: day 1

cauliflower rice via rawmazing

I started a 3-day raw food cleanse today. Since I'm officially another year older I wanted to start this year off by cleansing out whatever is old, stale, and stuck in my body and bring in some fresh and vibrant energy. I'm hoping that this cleanse will not only bring on a healthier physical state but also a healthier, happier and more creative mental state. Also, I think it's much easier to eat raw foods during the summer time. I'm not following any specific program, I'm just kind of creating it as I go but I got inspiration here, here, and here.

The first thing I did when I woke up this morning was take a teaspoon of Apple Cider Vinegar mixed with water. I followed that concoction with a glass of warm lemon water. I've been drinking a lot of water throughout the day, way more than I usually do, and to make it even tastier I've added fresh basil leaves to my water - it is quite summery and refreshing. However, I will admit to drinking coffee this morning. I was not going but then it just smelled so good that I couldn't resist. I don't add cream or sugar to my coffee so I figured it can't be all that bad.

I needed a mid-morning snack so I ate a handful of raw almonds. Then, for lunch I ate the cauliflower rice, but I omitted the scallions, maple syrup, fresh ginger and pine nuts. I don't have Himalayan salt so I just used regular sea salt. I added some thinly sliced fresh kale and half of an avocado and it made a really delicious salad. My afternoon snack consisted of a cut up grapefruit and a Kombucha drink. I'm not sure if the Kombucha drink is considered to be raw but I went for it anyway. I should probably do some research on that to find out.

And then for dinner I did a hodge podge of raw things - carrot sticks, this cucumber salad from rawmazing minus the coconut sugar, sauerkraut, and a repeat of the cauliflower rice salad but this time without an avocado. So far I feel pretty good. I don't feel like I'm starving myself or anything. Tonight I'm going to drink more water and if I feel like I need to eat anything else I'll munch on some fresh strawberries or cherries.

Have you ever done a raw food cleanse? If you have any tips or suggestions I'd love to hear them.

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

another year older

Today is my birthday. I'm another year older. But instead of the usual dread I've been feeling about getting older, I've decided that I want to always be as excited for my birthday as I was in this picture. I don't want the magic of birthdays to disappear just because I'm all grown up. I'm celebrating this day because I am so very grateful for being on this journey of life, for being given another day to make the most of my time here. I know that sounds a bit corny but I'm allowed a little sentimentality on my birthday.

It's been a lovely day! I spent it exactly how I wanted to…by creating my happy! Now, I'm just waiting for Ebert to get home- spending the day with the person I get most excited about seeing would have been the only thing that could have been this day better.

Sunday, July 13, 2014

this time of year

Last night, as part of an early birthday celebration, I had a girl's night out with my friend Ivory. We enjoyed cocktails and appetizers at my apartment, then headed out to dinner at a neighborhood Thai restaurant. It's always great chatting away like girl's tend to do and catching up on life, but the real fun of the evening was seeing one of my favorite bands, Better Than Ezra, perform at a street festival. It was a perfect summer evening for listening to music outside and dancing in the street.

The absolute best part of the night, however, was when the lead singer, Kevin Griffin, threw his guitar pick out into the crowd. The pick sailed through the air and bounced off dozens of hands trying to grab for it, then fell somewhere onto the ground and got lost amongst the crowd. I tried looking for it right away but didn't want to be looking at the ground during their last few songs- I wanted to enjoy the moment and their music so I thought to myself if I'm meant to find it I will. Twenty minutes later as they finished their last song and walked off stage and the crowd started to disperse, I took a couple of steps around and what do you think I saw on the ground just a few feet in front of me? Yes! The yellow pick. It's like it was just waiting for me to find it and it felt like magic! I was beyond excited.

And now I've given myself the challenge of learning to play this Better Than Ezra song with Kevin's pick before the next time they play in Chicago. They have a new album coming out in the fall and will be touring shortly thereafter, so it doesn't give me much time but I'm going to try. I have no idea where to begin but I do have a guitar so I guess that's a start. The reason I want to learn the song is because at most of their shows they usually pick someone from the audience to play the song with them onstage. I don't really have any musical talent but if that happened, well it would just be "so good". Here's to trying…

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

puerto rico: part three

Ha! I just discovered this post. It's been sitting in a draft folder since February. I can't believe I never posted it. All I had to do was finish writing a few things and it would have been ready to share. I have been such a lazy blogger this first half of 2014. I don't have any excuses except that I let self-doubt get in my way. Sometimes I feel like I don't have anything worth sharing, that no one reads my blog, and that it doesn't inspire the few people who do. And that's just silliness because when I write it makes me happy and that's kind of the point of this blog. It doesn't matter how many people read it as long as I'm happy writing. Although I do realize that I need to step up my game and get busy creating my happy. This is a great reminder that there's a lot I still want to accomplish before another year comes and goes, and I can do it all if I just stART doing it. Really, that's all there is to it. Just get busy creating- do a lot of work, especially the work that makes me happy.

And, finally, here are the last photos from our 5-year anniversary trip to Puerto Rico.

At our rainforest hotel, El Hotelito.

This was the driveway up to the hotel and, of course, we got stuck in the mud on our first day.

Luckily, the hotel owners came to our rescue and we made it safely up to the hill. However, there were several other times during our stay when we got stuck in the mud or stranded at the bottom of the hill. Needless to say, I hated that muddy road.

But we eventually conquered it on foot!

The view from our room overlooking the rainforest and you could see all the way out to the sea.

A new friend in our room.

Another view from the hotel patio looking out to the sea.

We visited the El Yunque rainforest and hiked to a waterfall.

A couple of sun-kissed sweeties celebrating 5 years together.

And then we said good-bye to the island and headed back home to Chicago. It was good to come back home but we were not excited about the cold. In fact, we're still not excited about the cold. This winter is never-ending and I'm so over it.*

*Eventually winter came to an end because it's now summer and there's no place like Chicago in the summer time.

limoncello gin cocktail

I just discovered this limoncello gin cocktail. It's perfect for summer- light and refreshing with just a hint of sweetness from the limoncello. I altered the original recipe to better suit my tastes, see my changes below.

  • 2 - 4 sprigs of fresh thyme
  • juice from half of a lime
  • 2 Tbs. limoncello
  • 3 Tbs. gin
  • ice
  • lime seltzer water

Muddle the thyme in the lime juice. Then add the limoncello and gin. Top with ice and fill the rest of your glass with the lime seltzer water. And there you have a deliciously refreshing cocktail for these hot summer days.

Monday, July 7, 2014

poland highlights - part one

The #1 highlight from our trip to Poland was seeing our friend's Matt and Natalia and meeting their 4 1/2 year-old daughter, Gabriella, for the first time.

Ebert and I flew into Krakow respectively late Saturday afternoon, our planes conveniently landing within minutes of each other. The flight from Chicago was long and only slightly miserable without Ebert. Besides just missing my husband in general, I also missed not having someone to lean my head up against or even to just talk to. I flew LOT Polish Airlines and most of the people around me only spoke Polish so it wasn't easy to strike up conversations. I mostly communicated through friendly smiles, pointing, and shaking my head yes or no. It was a great way to immediately get out of my comfort zone, even though it was a little intimidating at first. Otherwise, it was a smooth and easy flight. Matt was kind enough to pick us up from the airport so we were able to decompress on the 45-minute drive to their little town of Chrzanow (pronounced shaw-noff or something close to that). We spent the drive admiring the beautiful Polish countryside and drinking beers. What!? I know, it's so crazy that you can drink in the car in Poland. Of course, this is only as passengers and not as the driver. Even though it's legal it still felt like we were doing something wrong but we were weary travelers and happily drank our first Polish beers. When in Rome…or Poland!

It was overcast and dreary in Chrzanow with a slight chill in the air- it certainly did not feel like summer. Matt dropped us off at our hotel so we could wash off our layers of travel funk. Then Ebert and I, feeling quite refreshed after a hot shower, waited for our friends outside the hotel which was conveniently located in the main square and just a 10-minute walk from their apartment. When we all saw each other from across the square, Matt and Natalia took Gabi out of her stroller and Ebert and I stood there watching as she eagerly approached us with this happy smile on her face like she had always known us. She politely extended her hand out to greet us but Ebert went in for a hug and she lovingly obliged- from that moment on we were willingly at her command. We both confessed later that we almost started crying at that moment- she was just so excited, as were we, and not at all timid to meet us. We spent the next few days playing and laughing and chasing her around their apartment. Our time with her was pure joy!

Just look at that smile! How could you not want to give everything to the girl with that sweet smile? This picture was taken on our last day in Chrzanow shortly before we had to say goodbye to these lovely friends. We sure do miss them and are looking forward to when we can visit again.