My Personal Chicago Coffee Shop Tour: Part 2

If you missed Part 1, you’re probably wondering why I went on my own personal coffee shop tour of Chicago. Answer A: I was bored. And B: I’ve kept a list of coffee shops to go to since I started working remotely in March 2012. And with some down time during the holidays, I decided it was time to make a commitment to find my favorites on the long list I had made. Check out Part 1 if you’re curious! 

Gaslight Coffee Roasters: 2385 N Milwaukee Ave

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Getting to Gaslight was a breeze, especially because I call Wicker Park home. A short train ride up to Logan Square and a 1-minute walk from the stop and I was there. I arrived at 9, which was apparently before their normal rush because the place started humming around 10 am. I ordered a pour over and a chocolate croissant to get my day started.  It seems like the seating is designed for every kind of coffee shop-goer. There’s a retrofit auditorium-style bench to the left as you walk in, small tables for two on the right, a simple bar with stools on the back left wall, and a picnic table complete with a stuffed rooster at the back of the shop. The bar juts into the middle of the space and the signage is so simple that choosing my coffee took 0.5 seconds. I think this might be a new favorite of mine. The music and the din of the shop put me in a productive mode instantly. I spent 5 hours working at Gaslight—which is a long time relative to some of the other coffee shops I’ve visited in the past two weeks. (I also need to make a point to visit Café Mustache a block away while I’m in the area). I hear Gaslight offers a sandwich menu now but I skipped out on it that day. I’ll give it a try next time, I’m sure.

Bowtruss Coffee Roasters: 2934 N Broadway 

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Rainy Friday morning. Do I make the effort to go across the city to Bowtruss? When coffee is involved, yes. I’ll do anything. I’d heard really good things about Bowtruss from several people on Twitter and I knew it would be a good way to end my week. I wandered into Bowtruss around 10 am and was kind of surprised to see I was the only one there besides a dude picking up approximately 50 lbs of beans for his boss at a coffee shop elsewhere. Don’t get me wrong—I like having the space and quiet to think but when I go to a coffee shop, but I thrive off of the din of conversation around me. Unfortunately, that was lacking here. And I think I know the reason why—they don’t offer free (or paid for that matter) wifi to their customers. I guess I can see both sides of this argument [A) they make their money from distribution B) they likely don’t want people camping out in their shop just for the free wifi] , but I would think that their business would really thrive if they offered wifi.

That said, I’d come back to enjoy a yummy pour over on the weekend when I am not trying to get work done. It would be perfect for a weekend when I’m trying to unplug–because lack of wifi access just makes unplugging that much easier (as long as I ditch my phone at home?). I ordered an Ethiopian pour over and it was ready instantly. A perk of being the only customer on a Friday morning, I suppose. Disappointed in the disposable cup especially because I ordered it ‘for here’ but it was tasty nonetheless. The space is really open and airy, complete with a skylight over the roaster. They retrofitted some old suitcases with speakers and stacked them toward the back of the sitting area. A hollowed out canoe shelves the beans they have for sale—the rustic outdoorsy feel is appreciate in an urban setting. They even have old sleds lining the wall. In general, Bowtruss is a good place to stop and think over a cup of coffee. I’d probably come back to ponder the meaning of life. If you’re looking for a place to work remotely or engage in conversations with strangers, you should probably skip it and come back when you’re feeling a bit more introspective.

Big Shoulders Coffee: 1105 West Chicago Avenue

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I cheated. I’ve actually been to Big Shoulders before. But only ONCE before so I decided to include it here. Out of all of the coffee shops I’ve been to in the past few weeks, Big Shoulders has BY FAR the best customer service. The baristas are incredibly attentive and laid back. Both times I’ve gone, I ordered the slow drip and watched the lovely contraption drip liquid caffeine into a glass pitcher while people-watching with the help of floor to ceiling windows. It’s really easy to get work done in a place like this because it’s simple, clean, airy, and active. It’s especially nice that it’s directly off the Chicago blue line stop and 5 blocks away from my place. After going there today, I’m actually looking forward to making Big Shoulders a normal spot for me. I’m convinced the customer service won me over–because a cup of coffee should be about genuinely nice people serving up delicious caffeine.

-J

My Personal Chicago Coffee Shop Tour: Part 1

I have an obsession with coffee. I’m addicted to caffeine. My version of a happy Saturday afternoon is holing up in a coffee shop somewhere in the city with a big cup of joe and good book. For real. Include chocolate and it really is one of my “happy places” (the most obvious of which is the lakefront….duh).

This year for the holidays, I was gifted with the longest vacation since college. Back then, I was extremely spoiled with my school’s quarter system, as we had just before Thanksgiving Day up until just after New Year’s Day off. Six weeks is a long time to be idle as a college student. By week 3, I was pretty sick of a routine that didn’t include long days. Nowadays, I work for a super small company (think “two people small”) and it was decided about a month ago that we’d both take two full weeks off work to prepare for a busy 2013.

I didn’t expect to take so much time off at the end of 2012, but I wasn’t about to pass it up. But, after getting over the fact that I wouldn’t have to (key phrase: HAVE TO…I literally can’t stop myself from working, so it’s not 100% down time), I realized that I’d need to do something to keep myself from spending everyday at home in my pjs in front of the t.v. (when not running, of course).

SO, I CAME UP WITH A PLAN. I’ve had a list of coffee shops I have yet to visit in Chicago for the past 8-9 months. And even though I have a flexible work schedule and the ability to work from home 50% of the time, I haven’t been able to tackle the list and actually visit these coffee shops in 2012.

GOAL: Visit one Chicago coffee shop I’ve never been to each day for 7 days.

(Spoiler alert: I failed miserably at the streak but still made it to plenty of new spots!) 

Kickstand Espresso Bar: 824 West Belmont Ave

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I ordered the Mexican Chocolate Mocha with Cayenne. And it was full of spicy deliciousness. I’m never in this neighborhood but I was nearby at a physical therapy appointment and realized how close it was as I started walking to the train. I really appreciated the ambiance at Kickstand. It was really bright and cheery, which is exactly what I needed on a gloomy winter day in Chicago. I also ordered a sesame bagel toasted with cream cheese, which wasn’t spectacular, but it didn’t disappoint either. The decor was a mixture of cool art and repurposed tables ‘n chairs. The wainscoting on the walls was made of old meter sticks. I appreciated its DIY-ness. Seating is somewhat limited for this little espresso bar, but there are two larger tables and bench seating that looks out onto Belmont—perfect for people-watching. They serve Metropolis coffee so if you’re a fan, go there for the good beans and the good space.

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Buzz: Killer Espresso: 1644 N Damen Ave

Ok, I admit it. I failed. I didn’t make it to a new coffee shop on NYE or New Year’s Day. Guilty as charged. But after rehydrating and learning how to become a human being again, I sauntered over to Buzz for a little caffeine kick in the pants. From the outside, Buzz looks like it’s “cutesy”. You know…like one of those places that is covered in pastel paint and probably harbor young mothers with cute little children. But NOPE! I was mistaken! Buzz is nestled between a bar and a restaurant in what looks like a cute family home, but the inside if very modern and sleek. The bar is made of reclaimed wood (aren’t they all nowadays?) and the lighting makes the space really fresh. As you walk in and past the coffee bar, the seating is really cozy. Silver-brushed tables with spotlight lighting overhead make it a place to cozy up with a book or work on your own. The customers were a mixture of people working silently on their computers to a few people have a very deep intellectual conversation to people like me that just wanted a quiet place to sit and think for a bit. I work from coffee shops often and this is one that I would visit if I didn’t need a ton of space. Small tables make for small tasks sometimes.

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Oh! The COFFEEEEE! I ordered a delicious Brazil pour over. It was exactly what I wanted. I’m not a creature of habit when it comes to how I take my coffee. Sometimes I go for cream, sometimes I don’t. That day? No cream. Just pure delicious coffee. They have over 6 different pour overs and they all cost $3.50, which isn’t bad in the city. I highly recommend giving this place your time.

Ipsento Coffee House: 2035 N Western Ave 

After a short run in the morning and an overall slow start to my day, heading to the coffee shop was a bit of a chore (I know, I know…). But this place truly made up for it. I walked in and immediately ordered the first thing on the menu, the Ipsento Latte. I’m a sucker for anything with coconut and this latte was full of coconut milk and honey, two of my favorite things.  I ordered a 16 ounce and sipped on it for a good, long hour. It was also spiced with cayenne just like the Kickstand Mexican Chocolate Mocha —I think it’s safe to say I like spice. Ipsento is SUPER cozy. Again, limited seating like Kickstand and Buzz, but that’s likely why people frequent them. I cozied up with my latte in a comfy corner armchair initially and then moved to a little table in the opposite corner to get some work done. They played really good music that put me into a productive mode for a solid 4 hours. I’ll be back (especially because it only took me 10 minutes to get there, including time to walk to the train).

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Side note: I have yet to go on one of Caffenture’s coffee bar crawls but Ipsento is included on their blue line crawl. And I can totally see why.

I still have a solid list of coffee shops I have yet to visit but I’m happy I’ve been able to finally cross some off of that list. I work best in a coffee shop with delicious beans, good music, and ambient noise from conversation among customers. Happy to have found three more spots I can frequent in Chicago when I’m looking for a change of pace (heh…get it, runners?).

What’s your favorite coffee shop in Chicago? Do you try to visit all local coffee shops or do you stick to chains like Starbucks? If you could visit one coffee shop in a different neighborhood everyday, would you? What should I add to my list?!

-J

Seven Things

Life is a Run invited me to share 7 things about me that others may not know this week. I think it’s refreshing to read others’ blog posts that have absolutely nothing to do with running. While running may be what connects me with people I never would have interacted with otherwise, it’s nice to know more about them than what their 800 splits are, the pace of their last long run, or their half marathon PR.

So, my “7 things” are as follows:

  1. My name is Jenny, but my REAL name is Jennifer Holly. My twin sister’s name is Lindsey Noelle. And YES we were born in December, fairly close to Christmas. Apparently one of us was supposed to be named Julian (Jillian?), but my mom decided on Jennifer and Lindsey instead. I don’t really ever remember being called Jennifer and I’m not sure who decided that Jenny would be my more common name. Hmmm…questions to ask the family!
  2. I’ve lived in 4 different Chicago neighborhoods, despite only living here for 5 years. When I started college, I lived in Lincoln Park near campus. Then I moved around a bit to Wrigleyville and then Pilsen on the south side. Now I’m in Wicker Park and like it more than any of the others. I think I have a disease that requires me to move some place new, throw out possessions I don’t need, clean out my closet, and paint some new walls every 6-12 months. Hopefully this disease takes care of itself and allows me to remain in the same apartment for longer than that this time around!
  3. I always carry a book in my bag or purse, but usually take more than 3-4 weeks to finish it. I have a massive Goodreads list of books I need to read and have barely made a dent in it. The list is never-ending! Sometimes I think I dedicate more time to seeking out good books and adding them to my list than to actually reading them. 🙂 Woopsies!
  4. I reserve my Sunday evenings for catching up on my favorite TV shows. Lately these shows have been Dexter and Boardwalk Empire. I seriously can’t wait until Mad Men and Shameless make their return appearance in January. I already have the date saved on my calendar. 🙂 Without my comfy couch, a glass of wine/beer, a soft blanket, and my TV shows to watch on Sunday, I’m not sure how I’d stay sane. It’s my “me time”.
  5. I’m sure a lot of people have this problem, but I’m notorious for creating TO DO lists that are highly unrealistic. Sure, it’s good to be determined and focused, but my list is just silly. I even have multiple TO DO lists–because one is never enough. I use Wunderlist for groceries and other random items, WorkFlowy for lists that need to be outlined, and I always have a simple weekly planner on me that I cover in post-it notes that include more ‘to do’ lists. I should just choose one and stick to it, shouldn’t I?
  6. I HATE brussel sprouts. Yes, with an intense passion that rivals all other forms of hatred. I always have and I always will. My mom made a mistake this year for Thanksgiving dinner. She made brussel sprouts thinking that this would be THE year I’d try them out again. But she was sorely mistaken. I’m not budging. I’ll stick to other greens like asparagus (which happens to be my favorite vegetable ever).
  7. Confession: half the time I sit down to write my blog posts, I don’t know what I’m going to write about. I think I’m okay with that. I’m not trying to cater to anyone else or provide advice for other runners. Just sorting through some things in my own head and putting them on digital paper so that I can keep track of where I’ve been and where I could be going. I love seeing that people subscribe to the blog, don’t get me wrong! The little comments and notes are nice and it makes me realize how easily connected we all are, especially in the running community. So blog on, all, blog on!

Those are my ‘7 things’. What are yours?

-J

I’m baaaaack! + Spring Racing Schedule

I hope everyone had a lovely, fantastic Thanksgiving holiday weekend with loved ones. I had a great time hanging out with my brothers and nephews all weekend. (The sisters were doing their own thing in DC and I missed them terribly. But they missed out on some delicious food and hot toddies…just sayin’). It was unseasonably warm in Indy, just as it has been in Chicago lately. On Friday, we had a toasty high of 63 degrees! SIXTY-THREE!? Absolutely wonderful. I’m glad I brought plenty of running shorts with me as opposed to leggings because I put them to use.

The Drumstick Dash was a success. It was a much different experience this year than last. (Last year involved sideways rain and a lack of preparation apparel-wise on my part. I hadn’t truly gotten into my running kick at the time and just ran the race to have fun. Well, I guess as much fun as you can have running in sideways rain.) I’ve slowly been healing after I was diagnosed with peroneal tendonitis in my left leg and I wasn’t sure if I’d RACE or RUN the Dash. My dad even found me 2 minutes before start-time and asked me the same question. I told him I didn’t know—but I think I did. 🙂 Because I took off runnin’ and got into a rhythm with my tunes right away.

I must be lucky when it comes to running into people I know (literally) because I saw an old high school friend that went to France with me at the time during the race. We chatted as much as we could (I told you I was racing!) and agreed we’d try to catch up afterward. It was nice to see a friendly face and be surprised during the race.

The Dash is only 4.5 miles but it feels much longer because of the small turns you take through the Broad Ripple neighborhood. I had enough distractions and I set my sights on some other runners up ahead to keep the momentum up. By the 3rd and 4th mile, I had thoroughly shocked myself. I looked down at my Garmin and it didn’t budge from a 7:00-7:10 pace. Where was THAT coming from!? It must be the rest I’ve been taking lately with this tendinitis issue. I even managed a 5k PR during a 4.5 mile race. (My previous PR was in August and it was a poor effort on my part. Still, that was my PR at the time). I finished the course in just over 32 minutes.

Age Group: 14th place
Overall finish: 492/5604 *top 9% out of those with timing chips (15000 people registered, 5604 with chips)

I didn’t have much tenderness in my left leg the day after like I did when I first experienced pain there. I’m so happy the pain is going away and I’m able to run longer distances now. I even ran 6 miles before work this Monday! Talk about starting the week off on the right foot…or left?

This morning I got up early and managed to find the time to do both a biking and running workout. I got on the bike for 20 minutes while I waited to snag a treadmill at the gym. I am not on a structured training plan right now (which is awesome), but I decided I would run 4 miles today. I started the pace at 8:30/mile and ended at 7:06/mile. Last year when I started my training in February, my pace for 800 springs was around 7:50. Now that is an easy run. It’s funny what time and dedication can do within a year’s time. I’m looking forward to starting off even healthier this year and working towards a fun spring racing schedule.

Since I won’t be able to register/run Boston until 2013, I’m looking forward to dedicating the spring to my half marathon time. My current half PR is 1:43:48 (average pace 7:55), while my marathon PR is 3:32:53 (8:08 average pace). My average pace for the half and the full definitely shouldn’t be that close. And I know I’m capable of running the half much faster. So, without further ado, my spring racing schedule:

  • Rock ‘n Roll National Half Marathon– March 17th 2012– Rock ‘n Roll always has really well organized races and this will be a good excuse to get out to D.C. and visit my twin sister. 🙂
  • Carmel Half Marathon– April 21– I’m excited about running this one. I grew up minutes away from Carmel and I’ll have a hometown crowd there cheering me on (thanks to my nephews! :-)) The price is right and it will be nice to run a race in Indy again.
  • Bayshore Half Marathon– May 26th–I think I most excited about this race. It’s small (they only allow 2300 runners) and flat and scenic. My brother will be running the full and WILL qualify for Boston at this event. It’s going to be a good day 🙂

I’m sure Coach has a specific pace in mind, but we’ll see how the season unfolds. I feel like there’s a lot of good stuff to come. If this morning’s 7 min pace is any indication to what I can look forward to, it’s going to be a great spring running season.

Have you registered for your spring races yet? What are you focusing on? Do you like having a structured racing plan or play it by ear?

-J

Autumn Loves

Lately I’ve been savoring the little things BIG things. It’s the time of the year to think about what you’re thankful for and what you’ve accomplished in the past 11-12 months. I’ve been thinking about it lately and decided that I’d be silly to think that life is anything but good.

Life is good.

I am super happy about some things happening in my life and the lives of friends & family. It’s easy (especially in the city) to feel compartmentalized and sectioned off from the rest of the world. But everyone is working towards something awesome, it seems. I’m happy to be around people that are driven, know where they want to go, and are figuring out a way to get there. (Again, this goes back to the video I posted last week—I still can’t get over it.)

Short and sweet…I’m thankful for:

  • my sister, Lindsey. My day wouldn’t be the same without our Gchat convos. PLUS she just got hired by a landscape architect in D.C. and she’ll finally have a job doing exactly what she wants to be doing! I’m so excited for her–for real.
  • a workplace with a lax dress code. Because dress pants on a rainy day just don’t work out as well as jeans and boots do.
  • my sweater drawer. I will be thankful for this drawer for approximately the next 5 months.
  • the fact that I survived Bikram yoga last week!!! I’m obsessing over this new workout and love the way I feel after sweating for 90 minutes in a room with a ton of other sweaty people trying to contort their bodies into odd shapes. There really is nothing like it.
  • my puppy. She may be a rascal sometimes (admittedly, she’s not really a puppy anymore), but she always goes crazy when I come home after work.
  • an active family. I’m running the Drumstick Dash in Indy this weekend with my mom and brother. How awesome is that?
  • hot apple cider. ’nuff said (even better when it transforms into a hot toddy)
  • the ability to feed myself good food. I look forward to cooking good dinners every weekday. Good food, good beer, and good company is all I need.

The little things have become the big things.

-J

 

Sunday=Baking Day

I woke up this morning and immediately thought about breakfast. I’m not a “breakfast person”. I usually have to make a conscious decision to put a bagel in the toaster and slather it with cream cheese before heading out the door. More often, I throw some instant oatmeal into my purse and sometimes make it at the office when I’m hungry. Cup o’ coffee & I’m good to go. But today was different. I had a recipe in mind.

Bacon-Wrapped Eggs…

I found this video online about two weeks ago and it’s been on my to do list ever since. Bacon-Wrapped Eggs

So I headed to the store for all the necessary ingredients:

  • carton of eggs
  • package of bacon
  • shredded cheddar cheese
  • chives (or any kind of herb)
  • and HUNGER …which was easy

I may or may not have bought ingredients for cookies ‘n cream brownies as well… shhh!

The recipe is very simple. Brown the bacon but avoid making it crispy like you normally would. Create cups o’ bacon on the muffin pan. Crack an egg and plop each one into the cup o’ bacon.

Top with the cheese of your choice.

I used a combination of feta, colby jack, and shredded cheddar cheese. The feta was a risk, but it turned out delicious.

Mmmmmmm. Are you salivating yet?

Ready for the oven.

Heat the oven to 400 degrees and bake the eggs for 15 minutes or until set.

And wait patiently (or not so patiently in the pup’s case)…

What a rascal.

Almost done!

Amazing, right? So simple, so rich, so delicious.

Consume with cup of fresh orange juice and cup o’ joe.

Then? …..NAP!

-J

Last LSD Before I Enter the Pig Pen

As of today, 10 days remain between me and the start line of the Flying Pig Half Marathon in Cincinnati. It’s weird to think how fast this training period has progressed. It seems like just the other day that Brittany, my sister, and I were trying to decide which half marathon we’d be running this spring. The Indy 500 Festival Mini Marathon was out due to my twin sister’s graduation weekend (would never miss that–duh!). And there wasn’t one in the Chicagoland area that really piqued our interest either. Luckily, Brady, a fellow long distance runner on DailyMile and Twitter recommended the Flying Pig Half Marathon in Cincinnati. I’d never heard of this race before and was open to going elsewhere in the Midwest to run. The timing worked perfectly in order to hit an early ‘peak’ before starting the true training cycle for the Chicago Marathon, so Britt and I decided to register.

Since then, I’ve kept my head down and remained focused on getting those workouts in each week. I’m very detail-oriented and like the idea of looking forward to a training schedule and backward on what I have already accomplished–which is why DailyMile has been such a great tool for me. I’m so happy I’ve used it as much as I have, because the encouragement and camaraderie is just outstanding (and most often when you most need it and least expect it). Since I began a consistent running schedule in late January of this year, I have run over 226 miles and devoted 38 hours to time on the treadmill or pounding the pavement (weather permitting, of course). Leading up to the Sam Costa Quarter Marathon last month, I wasn’t feeling very healthy joint-wise. My knee was giving me problems and I was scared which way it was going to go for me that morning even after an easy warm-up jog. Luckily, the knee wasn’t an issue that day and I was happy with my first age group award in over 10 years. It was a great way to start the season.

Since allowing myself to rest and rehab the knee a bit with some cross training and light running, I’ve amped up the workouts in the past couple of weeks. And last weekend was my last long run before Race Day. I had a target to just stay on my feet and ran a consistent pace for about 2 hours. I woke up that morning prepared for what I had to do. I’m not always the most consistent when it comes to fueling my body as I should before a long run, so I made a point to be diligent this time around. I wanted to feel nice and strong throughout. I had a cup of coffee and some oatmeal with a bit of natural yogurt from Trader’s Point Creamery. (I was out of hummus which I love to munch on before long runs, but the small bit of yogurt was a nice substitute.). I also had a couple Shot Bloks left over from the Shamrock Shuffle. The margarita flavor is oddly enough very tasty! And I think the extra salt really does help keep me going–I’m sure it will on even longer runs in the future as well.

The weather on Saturday was the perfect kind for a long, slow distance run. It was mild outside with a cool breeze. Well, breeze might not be the right word, as it amped up to 16-18 mph during the second half of the run. But I was comfortable in leggings, a lighter long sleeve shirt, and a headband to keep my ears warm (something that always bothers me is cold ears!). As much as I wanted to run along the lake that day, I know that the wind was just going to get worse the further east I ran. Instead, I decided to run north up Ashland and see where my legs took me. I like letting my mind go and not prescribing a strict route on long runs–keeps the mind fresh, I think. I always know the general direction of where I’m going to go, but especially for runs that are about time and not distance, it’s refreshing to do away with those mile markers. (I even turned off the distance audio cue on Runkeeper to keep from focusing on that number.)

As I looped back around and ran towards home, the weather took a turn for the worst. Running through strong gusts of wind really does motivate you to run towards home! I felt strong and powerful and my legs didn’t feel fatigued much at all. In the last 3-4 miles a natural water cooler appeared in the form of mist and cooled my forehead, which was nice! I decided to push it the last mile and a half or so. I absolutely love pushing the pace at the end of a long run. It helps to open up the hips and let your legs loosen up a bit.

In total, I ran 11.89 miles in 1 hour 55 minutes and was very happy with my pace throughout. Traffic signals provide somewhat of a problem when you’re trying to judge one mile to the next, but it was pretty consistent nonetheless. As nervous as I may have gotten in the past few days with the Flying Pig on my mind, I know that I’ve done practically all I can do to prepare for a good Race Day. Good days and bad days may happen, but you never know what surprises are in store when you get to the start line. I learned that lesson just 4 short weeks ago. I’m looking forward to seeing what I’m made of on May 1st in Cincinnati. An even 8:00/mile pace would make me happy, but a 7:50 pace would make me even happier!

-J

Ravioli in a Coffeemaker

Now THIS would have been helpful as a college student! Apparently that overvalued college education I’ll be paying off for the next ten to fifteen years paid off because I discovered an efficient way to cook pasta without a pot, without a direct heat source, and without boiling water. Living in a small 1 bedroom apartment without a full kitchen has seriously hindered my ability to ingest pasta like it is my job in the past 14 months. Before this lifestyle change, my devotion to everything CARBS was unwavering. Especially as a college student, I couldn’t find any reason to justify not eating it for several days in a row. It’s cheap. It’s easy. It’s imperishable. It’s yummy. The end.

Last week, I tried cooking ravioli in a coffeemaker for the first time. I had no idea how it was going to turn out, as I doubted that the heat generated to make a measly cup of coffee would be a sufficient amount for cooking pasta. It turns out I had no reason to doubt the power of the coffeemaker. I bought a small package of three-cheese ravioletti by Buitoni at the grocery store down the street. The next step was to make sure the coffeemaker was clean of any leftover grounds. Considering I make coffee every morning, I knew that this might be the hardest part of the entire process–and looking back on it, it was! After cleaning it thoroughly, I filled the reservoir with water, emptied the package of ravioli into the coffee pot, and press ‘BREW’. I wish I could tell you it required some sort of culinary prowess on the part of its chef. I wish I could say that I made the ravioli with my own two hands as a sort of concession for my laziness. No such luck. I merely had a crazy idea and was crazy enough to try it out!

 

-J

October = Wedding Guest Bliss

In the past three weeks I have attended two absolutely stunning weddings. The first, my surrogate-older-sister here in Chicago, Stephanie Hewson, married her Italian foodie man, Mr. Scordato. And second, my very own brother, Cory, married his first and only coffee-shop love, Kristen,  in a beautiful outdoor wedding.  If I could go to a wedding every 6 months and if every wedding were as much fun as these two were, I would do it…just because there’s no limits to what you can do with a wedding and with a lovely couple who wants to share it with their own loved ones. What makes me so impressed by the two weddings I attended this October was the couples’ will power to “stick to their guns”. They obviously knew exactly what they wanted and ensured that every last detail was executed beautifully. I am not one to get all lovey-gushy—but it was hard NOT to feel that way when these brides and grooms shared their love for each other, their families, and their friends so willingly and easily.

The Betrothed: Stephanie Hewson and Mario Scordato

Stephanie wore her an heirloom dress for the ceremony and splurged on her dream dress for the reception (can you tell?). She looked so gorgeous. The wedding was complete with “his” and “hers” cocktails- whiskey and apple cider for the guys; Chambord and white wine for the gals. The food was a reflection of the newly-married couple, who finds delight in food each and everyday. If I could afford to be fed by them everyday, I would. It was a testament to their foodie talent that I actually ate and enjoyed their shaved brussels sprouts (Shhhh! don’t tell the mom!). The sentence I kept repeating in my head throughout the night was “this is a movie wedding, this is a movie wedding, this is a movie wedding”. Perfect occasion for a crazy-awesome couple who adore each other. The pearly stringed lights draped across the tent made the wedding feel magical, like we had stepped onto a different sort of atmosphere altogether. After admiring the ambiance and being in a semi-comatose state after such a taste-bud-pleasing meal, we got to roaming and enjoyed time with Steph, her man, and all of her friends. I wish we could have stayed longer–I could have star gazed outside that tent for hours.

“They Did It!”: Cory Poore and Kristen DuHack

CORY GOT MARRIED!!! The bigger bro finally did it. I knew he was happy with Kristen when…I saw them together for the first time. Hanging out with them is like hanging out with old friends that you never get sick of. I wish I could hang around with them more often. –And their wedding was a reflection of their relaxed & calming nature. They let everything happen for them on their wedding day. It may be different from a guests’ point of view but everything seemed to be easy & carefree at the Poore wedding. Seeing my brother cheesin’ during the ceremony made me so happy. All smiles to start the rest of his life with a beautiful person and my new sister. THE FAMILY IS GROWING! If only we could dance the night away every night with such a fun group of people! 🙂 There really are no words for how happy I am for Cory and Kristen.

Maybe it’s the time of the year, maybe it’s my affection for both of these newlywed couples…or maybe it’s just easy to be comfortable in such a fun-loving environment. :sigh:

– J