Wednesday, September 14, 2016

The Loss of a Job

I'm losing my job any day. It's not the first time it has happened to me but it's the first time that I have been seeking and have yet to find the opportunity that is the right fit for me. It's terrifying. I remember the first time that I lost my job as part of a radical downsizing, it was right around the aftermath of 9/11 when it was really hard to find a job. I spent an entire year looking only to settle on taking something which rendered me underemployed and that set me back SIGNIFICANTLY in income to work my way back up. I did, and I'm a better person, a better professional today having gone through that but I wouldn't wish it on anyone. At the time, I was a single mother and losing my income was a direct threat to my livelihood and the livelihood of my son who was very young then. It meant going without health insurance and living for what seemed like forever on unemployment income. That year, I couldn't put presents under the Christmas tree and I never told anyone that I actually got desperate enough to visit the food pantry on two occasions that year. It was a humbling experience.

Fast forward to 2016 and my company has filed for bankruptcy. I'm 16 years more experienced and confident in my abilities and what I bring to the table. I am now married, my son is grown, educated and no longer living at home. I have two step children, the youngest is 16. My husband and I have a mortgage and bills, just like any other family and while he makes a good living, my income is a significant contribution to our lifestyle.

It's amazing how much of my identity is tied to my career. I love what I do. A large part of me is defined by my career and my ability to contribute to my family's income. The thought of losing my job and being unable to contribute the way I do today to my family is really very terrifying. Why is that? Why is so much of my identity tied up in what I do for a living and why do I feel like less of a person without it? It's a fear I haven't really spoken to anyone about and I was floored the other day when my husband recognized my anxieties and without having to say anything at all to him, he said "don't worry, we'll get through this --- together." I needed him to say that so badly. Never in my life have I ever relied upon anyone for my wellbeing. I was always the one that provided it. I provided it to others in relationships and to my son while he was growing up. Here is this man who is my partner, willing to take care of me in this time of need. I know that is probably not surprising to any of you, husbands are supposed to do that after all but I've never counted on anyone in this way. It means everything to me. It's a scary, uncertain feeling but the fact that I can count on this other person is a concept so foreign to me. He makes me feel as though my worth to him doesn't change. He has confidence I'll be back on my feet before long and that confidence, that support is an expression so important to me that I can't describe it. Do I sound crazy? I'm a 47-year-old woman married to this man for 9 years. Why is the concept that I can really rely on him and count on him such a foreign and surprising concept to me? He's my husband. He's supported me through raising our three kids, supported me through the difficulties of life and been there through my struggles and my triumphs, why is this so different?

Friday, April 22, 2016

'Gluten Free' Is Not A Preference, Moron!

I’m sick and tired of going to restaurants and ordering gluten free and being asked is it an allergy or a preference? Seriously? A preference? When I eat gluten I feel so bloated I wanted to explode. When I eat gluten I have explosive bathroom issues. Yes, I choose to feel so nauseated that I wanted to vomit but can’t. Yes, I choose to feel as though I just want to go to sleep until the nightmare is over. Yes, absolutely, it’s a preference. Be real!

So, over a year ago I was diagnosed with Hashimoto’s disease. No, not Quasimodo’s Disease, Hashimoto’s. It’s an autoimmune disease in which your body attacks your thyroid. The most common symptoms include: fatigue, weight gain, pale or puffy face, feeling cold, joint and muscle pain, constipation, dry and thinning hair, severely dry skin, heavy menstrual flow or irregular periods, depression, panic disorder, a slowed heart rate, not to mention a myriad of other annoyances. It’s about seven times more common in women than in men. It can occur in teens and young women, but more commonly shows up in middle age, particularly for men. In most cases Hashimoto’s develops into thyroid dysfunction or hypothyroidism. I’m lucky to not have the latter but it’s an annoying disease. I’m cold, even when it’s 70 degrees out if there is the slightest breeze. I’m tired --- so tired. My muscle and join pains are indescribable. My skin is so dry that shaving my legs is a MAJOR event followed by bleeding, rash and discomfort. Thank goodness for my Chiropractor and my massage therapist, they’ve changed my life. The sadness and the panic are often devastatingly overwhelming and cause others to think that I am out of my mind. I work very hard to keep all of these things under control so that I can continue to live a somewhat normal life but it isn’t easy. Every day, it’s something new or something different. I’m sure to many others I seem somewhat of a hypochondriac but I’m very dialed into my body and how I feel and often days it’s easy for me, myself, to think that I am crazy.

The funny thing about becoming really conscious about how you feel on a day-to-day basis is that you start to realize sometimes how terrible you have felt for so long and never realized it. Terrible starts to be the normal and pretty soon you adjust. No really, I’m serious. For example, when the Blackhawks are playing, my husband and I are very tuned in. We love to go out to a bar and catch a game, enjoy a few beers and occasionally some pizza. We’ve done this for years. As of the last year or two, I found myself becoming very sick during these celebrations. I never paid much attention to the why. I blamed it on the greasiness of the sausage on the pizza, drinking too much, the lack of carbs that I eat, not drinking enough water that day, etc. But when I really started to pay attention, I found that the sickness was sometimes debilitating. Once, I excused myself, left my husband and went home because I just wanted to go to sleep to make how I felt stop. For years, when I was doing low-carb diets, I thought I felt amazing while on them because carbs were just that awful. I didn’t realize that it was the absence of gluten in the diet that was making me feel so awful.

As I work hard to try to keep my pain and inflammation to a minimum, I often seek the advice of my own personal physician and rely heavily on articles about this crazy autoimmune disease in hopes that I’ll find the next greatest thing to help me. One of the first things that I was told by EVERYONE was “go gluten free.” My doctor said it, everyone I came across that suffers from it said it and every article that I read on the disease says to go gluten free. Why? Apparently, the majority of individuals that have feel remarkably better. If I could feel remarkably better, why wouldn’t I do it too? My husband and I have been following a low carb diet for some time so the thought of giving up bread and things was not as horrifying as it might once have been but the thought of never being able to eat it again was a little scary, I admit.

At about the time I was diagnosed with Hashimoto’s, my doctor had run a battery of tests. One was for Celiac disease. Currently, the only treatment for celiac disease is lifelong adherence to a strict gluten-free diet. People living gluten-free must avoid foods with wheat, rye and barley, such as bread and beer. For Celiacs, ingesting small amounts of gluten, like crumbs from a cutting board or toaster, can trigger small intestine damage. Fortunately, I tested negative; however, I still had a decision to make. Even despite the negative result, it was still highly recommended that because of my symptoms, I try going gluten free. By this time, I was really feeling awful most of the time so I did it, I took the leap.

I can’t remember the date but it hasn’t been quite a year since I’ve gone gluten free. I will tell you, I feel significantly better. When I’ve accidentally ingested something that contains gluten (because it is in so many things that are not obvious), I immediately know because of the bloat and the nausea that I feel. I no longer eat anything containing wheat, rye or barley. I no longer consume any beer and unlike following a low-carb diet, I am never tempted to cheat on my gluten-free choice because I know how devastatingly awful I will feel.

So you can imagine how annoyed I am when a waiter or waitress asks me in a restaurant “is it an allergy or a preference?” I don’t do gluten free to be faster, stronger, or more attractive. I’m not doing it as a means of losing weight. Gluten is a toxin, it causes inflammation, it contributes to autoimmune diseases, and it gives you headaches, joint pain and brain fog. It makes you sick. When you consume gluten, it enters your small intestine. The gluten molecules irritate and attack your epithelial cells (the ones on the inside of your small intestines). This irritation causes the space between your intestinal cells to widen. In some cases, gluten also directly attacks your cells. Gluten, bacteria, and undigested food particles sneak through these gaps between your cells and into your bloodstream (you’ve probably heard of leaky gut). Once gluten and the other things enter your bloodstream, your body mounts an inflammatory response. This inflammation spreads throughout your body, wreaking havoc on your health. Theoretically, if you always indulge in gluten-filled foods, your gut and body stay inflamed.

Yes, only about 0.7-1.2% of the population has celiac disease and truly needs to avoid gluten but the all of the others who have some of the symptoms I have described may be allergic to wheat. Only about 0.4-0.5% of the population is allergic to wheat. The only other possible explanation is gluten sensitivity or gluten intolerance. It doesn’t make it any less real. There’s no firm definition of what gluten sensitivity really *is*. There are no objective lab tests. Yet, many people eat gluten-free to free themselves of symptoms associated with wheat allergy, simple gluten sensitivity, autism, schizophrenia, rheumatoid arthritis, osteoporosis, and Type 1 diabetes.

People like myself who suffer from joint pain, migraines, and unexplained gut issues have found relief from following a gluten-free diet, sometimes upon the suggestion of their medical doctors. My point being is that I don’t prefer to eat this way. There may not be science that can back up the claims that gluten free is actually the key to feeling better for some people even if they are not Celiac or wheat allergic, but I, like many other people, live the proof every day.

I prefer to be able to eat a sandwich with normal bread, have pancakes when I want them, put some crackers in my chili, enjoy the same pizza everyone else is devouring and not have to pay extra to go without but doing any of those things cause me serious pain and misery. Please don’t cop an attitude with me when I order something gluten free or when I ask you to find out if a certain item contains gluten. I’m not trying to inconvenience you or draw attention to myself. It’s for the sake of my health. So therein lays the choice: eat it or be in pain and misery. What’s your preference?

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

The Whirlwind That Is My Life

Just got back from a crazy whirlwind of trips with my beau and find myself glad to be back at work. While I was gone, crazy struck the world again with the horrific incidents in Paris. It's left me wondering what is wrong with this world. What will it be like for my grandchildren? It's just so scary to me. In a few short weeks, MY baby will be graduating from college. Part of me takes a big deep breath and says "finally!" but another part of me is left standing here wondering where the time went. I caught myself saying the other day that his graduating college was MY biggest accomplishment and then I realized how narcissistic that was .... what do I mean by MY accomplishment? Well, I raised that boy and it wasn't always easy. A single mother who can raise a man and say he has no children, no criminal record, no sexually transmitted diseases, no drug problems ... I'm sorry, that's an accomplishment. He graduated high school and went on to college and he's graduating. I can't describe the emotion that brings inside of me. I'm frickin' proud! Okay, so I changed my statement to "his graduation will be my proudest moment" ... it sounds less selfish, I guess.

So back to my whirlwind of trips .... we took an 8 hour road trip to Memphis, Tennessee to attend the wedding of a former co-worker of mine. We woke up at 3 AM, took off at 4 and arrived there early afternoon. Much to my chagrin, my husband booked a room at The Big Cypress Lodge which is inside a Bass Pro Shop. Do you hear the Beverly Hillbillies music playing as you read this? That's exactly what I was thinking. He's been dreaming since he booked this about how awesome it was going to be and I have been dreading the trip. Well ladies, I am here to tell you that it was the MOST amazing hotel I have ever stayed at. Hillbilly? Not in the least! It was high end, all the way. It's newer, it's big, it's so clean and it's furnished with no detail missed. To say I loved it was an understatement. A big basket of snacks on the table when you walked in the door of the room and they were there not for purchase, they were meant for you to eat and enjoy with no extra cost. What hotel chain does THAT? The room inside looks just like a wilderness cabin with a big touch of luxury. The beautiful big whirlpool tub was next to a huge window looking out over our room. VERY romantic. As I was unpacking a knock at the door revealed a young lady delivering fresh hot cookies for our evening enjoyment. HEAVEN!

That evening, we had dinner with friends who sent a stretch limo to the hotel to retrieve us. People looked on as though we must be celebrities. We were chauffeured to their home where we enjoyed a tour of their house, some very lovely appetizers and cocktails and great conversation. We headed back into the limo to the restaurant, Flight, in downtown Memphis. Flight is an amazing restaurant concept. Small plates served in flights. Everything from the wine of which I enjoyed three very delicious red wines to the soups of which I also enjoyed three small servings of three very different soups and then the entree that delivered three small servings of three different entrees. I could barely move when dessert came so my husband and I shared the dessert flight. I want to go back just to go to that restaurant. It was so good and if you are in Memphis, I highly recommend it. We then got back into the limo, among a small crowd of people wondering who we were (ha!) and were then dropped off back at our magnificent hotel where we retired into the amazing bed that our accommodations offered.

The following day we attended the very lovely wedding of my friend and his bride and on Sunday got back into the truck for our 8 hour ride back to Chicago. The Memphis trip was just so lovely and there wasn't a thing about it that I would have changed, except maybe I would have liked to stay longer.

We arrived home that evening only to prepare for our next trip, very early the next morning. Repacked our suitcases and were awaiting our ride to the airport at 4:30 AM for a flight to Vegas. I won't get all into the flight but can I just say .... how many people can an airline really expect to cram into a plane? I mean, really. When we arrived in Vegas my husband filled yet another dream and rented a 2015 Dodge Challenger for our roadtrip across the desert!

Yes, we took a road trip across the desert. I had all sorts of flashbacks to Breaking Bad. What exactly are all these very vintage mobile homes doing parked out in the remote desert? Very weird and a bit creepy. The 5 hour ride across the desert was actually really cool. At the outset I got to see Hoover Dam for the first time. My husband is absolutely in awe of the Dam and I found it pretty cool to see. There isn't a heck of a lot to see in the desert but I'm really glad we did it. At times my husband went a little too fast for my liking and I envisioned us going over a cliff and dying in a firey car crash but I'm happy to say that didn't come to fruition.
The best part of the trip of course was reaching our destination and visiting with Pam and Dave, friends that we met on our cruise last year. Never thought I'd be driving 5 hours across the desert to visit people I met on a cruise but there are just some people that you click with and know you'll always be friends. It was a lovely but short visit. A few days later we got back into the Challenger, drove back across the desert to Vegas. We arrived back to Vegas a day earlier than planned but were able to get a room at the Trump ... very nice hotel despite the crazy rants of Donald these days. Highlight of that stay was that I knocked myself out cold in the bathroom in the middle of the night with the big huge glass door that the toilet sat behind. For the remainder of our trip we stayed at The Bellagio. Very nice but very overrated. We were in a spa suite and I swear to goodness it took 25 minutes from the front door to get to our room. I averaged 15,000 steps on my Fitbit everyday that we were in Vegas ... you'd think I'd come back 10 lbs lighter. Ha!

Vegas is a weird place. The simple idea of Sin City gives grown men and women license to do, dress and say whatever they want. The things people wear there, you'd think that mirrors didn't exist anywhere in the state! The one thing I will never understand is the heels women wear .... who needs a pair of 6" high heels and why would anyone wear them in Vegas where you do nothing but walk. They might think they can walk in them but they all look like there were in excruciating pain. They look silly and not at all sexy! We also saw Frank Marino's Divas (female impersonators) which are always amazing and Puppetry of the Penis while we were there. I'm going to keep this G-rated but very funny, but again, very strange. Only in Vegas, folks!

I'm glad to be back home where I feel safest in the midst of the world's turmoil. My husband says we can't live in fear otherwise they have won but I can't help but be afraid for myself, my family, those I love and all of the innocent people who are compromised as a result of this craziness.

Thursday, May 14, 2015

True Love

I had an interesting conversation with my husband tonight that put a little panic in my heart but that panic quickly subsided because after my first marriage ended, I realized and have always reminded myself that if you love someone and that person doesn't love you back, there is nothing in the world you can do to make them love you. There is no reason to panic over things of this nature because to panic would be to think I have any control over it. I don't.

The conversation between my husband and I was not in relation to our relationship specifically but we were discussing the ending of a relationship or marriage and if you really love someone, shouldn't you be devastated if that relationship were to end? I know I would be and I totally believe that if you REALLY love someone, if that relationship ended, you would be devastated. My husband doesn't share that belief. I wonder if men and women differ in this belief. I wonder if it's a gender thing.

It got me to thinking about what true, selfless love really is.....

I know it should be selfless. You should want to and be willing to do something for the person you love without any expectation for anything in return. You should be willing to give your all to the relationship without any justification.

I know that seeing the person I love happy, regardless of my own personal struggles, should make me happy. Seeing the person I love succeed, even if I am not successful, should make me happy. I should always want the best for the person I love, no matter what.

I know that I have to be willing to sacrifice for the person I love, even if they don't know or might not ever realize it.

I know that I must be willing to try. I should always be willing to make the effort to be better and love deeper.

I know that if I love someone, even the thought of hurting them would hurt me.

I know that if I love someone I have to keep my promises, my vows, even if this person won't ever know if I break it. I know that my moral compass will become stronger where this person is concerned, just because I love them.

I know that to love someone I still have to love myself enough to grow as an individual as well as grow together and that while my individuality is important, I won't see my future without them in it.

I know if I love someone I will share the burdens in their life, even though I don't have to, I know that if there is a way that I can help the person I love, I will naturally want to do whatever I can to help lighten their burden.

I know that if I love someone, I will always relish in their successes and that I will never be jealous of their achievements.

I know that if I love someone, I will consider their point of view in all of my actions and decisions because their thought, opinions and feelings will matter to me.

It's a lot to think about and when I think about it in those terms, I unequivocally know I love my husband. I know that if his existence were to cease, I would be devastated but I also know that the love I feel for him may not be as mature as it will be after many more years together. In all the ways above that I know describes true love, I am not always the best at. I have good intentions and foundationally, I know that I identify with each one and have the very best intentions but I am not always the best and seeing each one through so I can certainly love him better. I know the value he brings to my life and that I don't want to live without him.

I think of the MANY married people I know in my life and I can honestly tell you that I know MAYBE two couples that I think experience this kind of love I describe above. One of them is evenly distributed on both sides. The other couple is one-sided, and they have been married a very long time. Both bring me joy because I see the true love in at least one person. It reassures me to know it does truly exist, but I do know that it is rare.

Do I have true love? I'd like to think so....but we don't both practice the above in harmony. I think we both believe we try in most aspects but I also believe the other person doesn't believe the other tries hard enough. So my question to you ... do you agree with me? Do you think that to be truly in love, the thought of losing the other person should be devastating to you? If losing the person, even if you knew you would be okay, doesn't devastate you, are you in love? I am really interested in various points of view. Please share.

Monday, August 25, 2014


I suck. One nice day in April and it all goes to shit. I've been MIA all summer. The good news? I've been down 50 lbs now for about a month and then tragedy struck in our lives and the scale hasn't moved since. In all seriousness, tragedy did strike us and I apologize for getting dark but it was one of the most horrible things that ever happened to me. My son, who is 22, lost his very best friend suddenly. He collapsed and died on the football field at Winona State during practice. My heart hurts, I mean really physically hurts for the pain my son is going through but mostly for the loss in our lives.

Shawn was a big oaf of a kid. Big and gentle as could be. He's been around since 2000 when I moved over to Elm Street after I lost my job and my boyfriend and had to move to the "other" side of the tracks. He and my son had known each other over the years but it wasn't until right around this time and living in the same neighborhood that they finally took a liking to each other. They were 8 and I remember watching them
out the window of my third story walk up apartment wondering what they'd be like when they grew up. Fast forward 14 years later through all of the teenage craziness that boys put their moms through and they are still friends. They have seen each other thru girlfriends, broken hearts, first times, learning to drive, learning to drink (ha) and lots of "bad burrito" excuses to hide it from me when things got out of control and they couldn't handle what they drank and they were still friends. He was there when I met my husband and there on my wedding day, he was a like a son to me. He was always there. As they got bigger, they got hungrier and they would literally eat me out of the house after I'd grocery shop when I was still single. Years later, Shawn got recruited by several big time schools and Zach went along in support on his recruiting visit to Notre Dame and the other schools until Shawn decided on University of Illinois. Shawn graduated early and went off to college and Zach went on to a different college after high school and still, they remained friends. They never stopped being there for each other. I could not have been happier that my son would know "that" friendship that lasted a lifetime. Shawn graduated college in three years, met the love of his life, stuck around Champaign while Zach was finishing up college in DeKalb and still, they remained friends. When they were back home at the same time, no matter what, that would take precedence and they would spend their time doing the same things they did when they were eight years old, being silly kids.

The night Zach called me from the gym was a phone call I will never forget and I knew that things would never be the same again. So to fast forward through an awful month, Shawn is gone and nothing will ever be the same. Our lives have changed, I am changed in a way I can't describe to anyone, not even myself. I'm functioning but there are times that I just want to retreat. I honestly feel like there isn't a soul on this earth that can understand what I feel because I don't understand. I'm sad for my son and for what he's feeling and that he has lost the one person in his life that was so important to him. But beyond that,
I've lost a part of myself. I find an anxiety and a panic within myself that I can't free myself from, afraid of what might happen next. There are times I can't believe he's gone and times I don't want to believe he's gone. Sometimes I pause and wonder if it all really happened. It did. I have no explanation for why, I didn't get to say goodbye, I didn't get to thank him for saving Zach's life when they were 10 and I didn't get to tell him how much he meant to me. He was an amazing kid and I didn't realize until he was gone how lucky I was to have him in my life.

Tuesday, April 1, 2014 Chicago? Could It Be?

April 1st and we are starting to see signs that perhaps spring is going to show up in Chicago. Yesterday it hit the 70 degree mark and although today will barely hit 50 degrees, we'll take it! It's been a long winter, I'm sick of seeing dirty snow and the poor dogs have cabin fever. It's the time in Chicago when everyone starts buying flip flops, people start to sport their summer attire that is not yet weather appropriate and homeowners everywhere are out buying things like patio furniture. It's tempting but not smart to start planting flowers with this tease of warmer weather .... the minute you plant them the temperature will dip down to freezing and your flowers will be forsaken. Resist the urge and put those creative bursts at the impending season change to work in another way.

The change of season, regardless of what season it is, always sparks the creative juices. Most of you know I have been hard at work (translation: my husband has been slaving away to make my vision come to fruition) creating a craft room. That is almost finished. He built me the most beautiful cabinet. Pictures to come! We still have the floor to do but I've now jumped into another project .... redoing my college-age son's room and converting it into a guest room as he (correction .. we) now pay 12 months of rent to the frat house; therefore, his room will be available to him just repurposed as a guest room. I am so excited about the vision for transformation I have in my head.

I have also started working on some fun little gifts that I am making for my dear friend who will be getting married later this year. Another way to overwhelm myself with things to do and use up all these creative juices. Speaking of weddings and creative people, I must give a shout out to my very creative and outgoing friend, Stephanie at Clark & Diversey. Stephanie is an amazingly creative gal that has used her talents to grow a thriving business. Check her out at She makes amazing hair pins, fascinators, veils, etc. for the woman (or girl) who won't settle for ordinary. I'm so impressed by her drive and creativity and a little jealous that she has turned this into a real business for herself.

What does the change of seasons spark for you? Are you creative? If you aren't one of the blessed ones who has figured out a way to make your creativity into a living, how do you release your creative energy?

Sunday, February 2, 2014

Our Brunch Excursions

We're one month into the new year. Casey and I have been on the Chris Powell carb cycling diet ... the Turbo cycle to be exact and at today's weigh in, he's 21 pounds lighter and I'm stuck at 13. I hate men. I can honestly say that I haven't cheated not one bit. No wine in 3 weeks ... seriously, that in itself is worth more than 13 lbs. I haven't been as great at the working out part as I should be but I'll be better this week ... just takes a little planning. My husband is being critical because I'm mad that the scale didn't move this week because I had surgery and had to fast for 12 hours prior and so I missed 3 meals on the program and didn't want to eat the stupid carbs the nurses wanted to feed me when I woke up from surgery. I was off on my water consumption for the day but it just doesn't seem like that should be enough to keep the scale at 13 pounds. Oh well, we'll see what happens this next week. I do feel it in my clothes. My jeans are not constricting, no muffin top .... they don't look as good as I want them to but they are comfortable and I couldn't really say that before.

So on this diet, Sunday is free day and we live to eat breakfast at a new and unusual place. I thought it would be fun to tell you about our Sunday food romps ... perhaps you will discover a new favorite.

The first weekend we went to Chief O'Neil's. Some of you might remember it as the former sight of Oinkers Bar at 3471 N. Elston in Chicago. It's really an amazing brunch but not after your first week of clean eating. There's nothing clean about the after affects and I figured out that buffets are not really the greatest thing because you can't eat as much anymore but you want to so you push yourself and let's just say, that's not a great thing. But seriously, a total shout out to Chief O'Neill's. Deliciously BIG goblet of Mimosa with a strawberry on the rim. On the buffet they have fried calamari that is amazing, fish and chips with an oh so delicious batter, Guiness cheese soup, the regular breakfast fare complete with an omelette station, tacos, homemade corned beef hash, macaroni and cheese that my husband said is to die for and a beautiful fruit and yogurt spread and the dessert bar .... is out of this world. It's a winner, I just can't do it though but for those of you who can, I highly recommend it! Oh yes, make a reservation because they often book up!

The second weekend took us to Sweet Maple Cafe at 1339 W. Taylor Street in the UIC neighborhood. My husband searched it online and we gave it a try. It's a small little place, very simple but cute and clean. The walls are distressed and you feel like you are eating in the french countryside. We waited a bit for a table but that's always to be expected for brunch on a Sunday. The little waiting area by the door got a bit crowded as we waited but it wasn't too bad. We got seated at a small table near the window. Tables were a little too close for the liking. Service was great. I was really wanting pancakes but I also LOVE grits so I had a cup of grits which really filled me up (still getting used to eating such a small amount and being filled up). I could only eat half of one pancake and had to take the rest home but it was good. Cheese grits were AHHHHHmazing. Pancakes? Not out of this world and I could have probably ordered something better but it's what I craved at the moment. It was pretty good. Other things to try on the menu still and at some point, we may go back. The Peruvian Mocha was yummy!

This week was my choice and it wasn't the best choice but it was something different. Big Jones in Andersonville. Cute atmosphere although we got a high top table near the door where it was freezing because it was all that was available. They are sort of an upscale take on southern comfort food in a bar atmosphere. It was interesting. Complimentary beignets upon being seated .... I could have just stopped there and had those for breakfast, they were delicious and sprinkled with powder sugar. I ordered a Mimosa and was disappointed at the half of a small wine glass I got. Casey ordered an extra spicy bloody mary that was served in the smallest glass I had ever seen with a bread and butter pickle and a piece of fresh okra ... ew. The alcohol was all sitting at the bottom of the glass. Way to go, bartender! I ordered Shrimp and Grits for $15 and Casey had their version of Biscuits and Gravy and we ordered a side order of two cheese biscuits. The shrimp and grits were great but those couldn't possibly disappoint me. They used itsy bitsy small shrimp which was a little disappointing since the meal was $15. I'd expect a few good size quality shrimp in the grits but they weren't bad despite the midget shrimp. The biscuits weren't southern biscuits like you would expect. They weren't terrible, just didn't live up to expectations. Casey said his biscuits and gravy were okay, the gravy was not at all spicy. He ordered a side order of bacon that didn't come until we were finished with our meal ... big bummer without any attempt on the waiter's part to make up for that. The bacon was really very good. I had a great cup of coffee in a big mug and Casey ordered a tea that was really smokey and was the absolute perfect compliment to his meal. The smokiness of the tea was so different and left you wanting more. Unfortunately they didn't have a 'to go' cup so we had to leave the remainder of the pot there. Big bummer. All in all, it was okay but for a total bill of $65, Chief O'Neills blows this place away. Definitely not a do-over.

Who knows where our next adventure will be! Stay tuned!