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!