Monday, May 24, 2010

Summer in Chicago

Well, It officially turned summer here yesterday. It was humid and almost 90 degrees by 11am. Maybe earlier but that is when we finally got out of the house.

What a wonderful weekend. Brian and I volunteered on Saturday morning, napped and then went to a friend's house for a delicious Vietnamese feast. Our friends cooked a Vietnamese street food dinner, consisting of the most tender calamari with a tangy sauce, moist pork baguette sandwiches with all the pickled trimmings, and the most unusual green shredded papaya and shrimp salad that I couldn't get enough of. So much fun, thanks guys.

On Sunday Brian's church had an outdoor mass, hence having to be up by 11. And boy was it hot. We sat in the sun, where I mistakenly worn jeans and roasted. Lucky for H2O sunscreen.

I love this product and actually anything from H2O. They are based in our neighborhood and they have an annual Warehouse Sale that is to die for. That is how I got this purse sized sunscreen for only $6. I ALWAYS carry it in my purse to avoid those unexpected times when you need it. I used to always be the girl running to Walgreens to buy the $9 tube that I would leave at home and then never have. And for that I would almost pay $30 for another one of these tubes. The convenience alone for us fair-skinned girls is worth it. Plus it works and isn't totally greasy. So if you are in town the weekend of June 12th and want to stand in a ridiculously worth it line with me in the West Loop give me a call.

Sunday afternoon when the house was 83 degrees and I could tell Brian couldn't stand it any longer I turned on the AC. Well, it cooled the house down to 77 degrees and stopped. So in an effort to make us happy we planted our cute container pots.

We planted Oregano, Rosemary, Basil, Parsley, and a few tomato plants. Despite our north facing balcony they still do ok.

So currently I am waiting for the AC guy. Me and 50,000 other Chicago residents today who didn't try their AC until the first hot day. I guess this is what I get for wanting summer to come, well, it's summer in our house. A balmy 83 degrees.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Beautiful and Happy

On Sunday it finally really sank in that Brian passed and we decided to take a walk to a local sports bar and celebrate. It was a beautiful day for a walk and a drink. We went to watch baseball, but little did we know that it was the start of the Chicago Blackhawks hockey game. So we drank and watched that. Then we realized there was a UIC baseball game being played a few blocks away.

We usually try to catch a few of these games a year but since the college season starts in March and ends early June most of the games are FREEZING. On Sunday it was about 65 degrees, a bit windy but sunny.

We went to the game and this is the view. You can't get much better than this!


So as you know, Brian passed the BAR exam. Well, here is the whole story of the evening. Brian wanted to be at home Friday night to get the results. At 8pm the results were getting released. At about 6pm I called Brian and asked him what take out he wanted me to pick up. I was close to one of his favorite Chinese places. So he called in an order and I waited to get it. As the restaurant owner handed me our food he said ohh wait. Then he turned around and grabbed 3 fortune cookies and gave them to me. I said,"Let's hope they are good fortunes." He smiled, I laughed and then I left.

Of course he had no idea the significance of my comment.

So I got home, we ate and then it was time to check the computer. At that point I almost had Brian open the fortune cookies before the results, but thought it a bit too weird. So he checked, he passed, and all the adreneline flew out of us.

A few hours later I was like, hey let's open the cookies. And I told him the story of the guy almost forgetting to give them to me. We actually opened the 2nd one in the picture first, the first one second and then the 3rd one about an hour later.

That is when we almost fainted. And yes, I am playing those lotto numbers.

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Brian Passed!

Many many months ago we took a trek to California so Brian could take the California BAR exam. Last night we finally found out the results and he passed! I am so proud of him. They made us wait 3 months for this, ahhh.

So last night at exactly 6pm Ca time and 8pm here we logged on and typed in his number code and it came up that he was on the pass list. Wow, I am so amazed and impressed. The exam that he took (2 days out of the 3 day exam since he has been practicing here for 5 years) only has a pass rate of 38%. Crazy.

All those months of working 8 hours a day, studying 2 at night and then 8 hours a day each weekend day paid off. No more BAR exams for us! Although we have to admit Brian is kinda on a hot streak with passing tests the first time! He is already talking about taking this Estate Planning Specialist test in Ca. If you know Brian that is so typical.

Well, now we can go on to a good day of going to the eye doctor, eating at a Polish restaurant Brian is dying to try, picking up our new shelves and then the gym. Sounds good. I know, I know, I will talk about my sudden gym interest later. Well maybe interest is too strong a word.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Baby Tate

It's official, I am an Auntie. Janelle had her baby boy, Michael Tate Holmboe on April 6th. I can't believe it has been over a month already. Isn't he so precious. I so look forward to meeting him. Brian and I are going to Portland for Father's Day and I finally get to meet him. I really wish I could have been there when he was born, but we will all have so much more fun in June. Waiting is excruciating though, I tell you.

Both Janelle, Tate and Zach are doing well, after a total of something like 26 hours of labor. It's hard to believe my little sister has her own son now, how cool.

I can't wait to get to Portland. We have never been, and I am sure Janelle, Tate and Zach will be great tour guides!


I have driven by this advertisement for condos many a times but today they were actually breaking ground. How bizarre! There is so much wrong with this picture.
  • California Estates-really, on a cold lonely stretch in Chicago. Does anything in that picture conjure up California to you?
  • Luminiferous????
  • Luxury
  • and finally, On-site Model in July 2006

This made me laugh so hard the first time I drove by it on a snowy day this past winter, I called my mom, in real California, and described the scene.

So I show Brian this and he says no big deal, they are on California Street right? Ahhh, duhhhhh! Can you tell I have California on the brain.

Then he said, "What does luminiferous mean?" and I say, "Exactly!"

Sunday, May 9, 2010

New (Old) Shelves

The search is over! I finally found a set of bookshelves that I love. Brian and I were driving by an antiques store last Sunday and I made him almost screech to a halt, and practically double park in a crosswalk to take a look at these shelves.

We ran in and took a look at the shelves that were in the window at the time. They are from the late 60's early 70's. The owner said they sold as a pair for what I have seen one shelf going for in other shops. I was pleased, we measured and ran out to NOT find a ticket on our car. Whew! I meant to go back and take a look after thinking about them all week. I figured this was a good sign.

I really like the idea of their openness, the idea that I am reusing something instead of buying new and of course the price was almost too good to be true. So when we drove by today and I didn't see them in the window I was kicking myself.

But, alas he just moved them. So we parked in a legal spot, and after looking at them again and realizing they were actually nicer than I remembered we bought them. Yeah! We pick them up next weekend when we rent a truck. I can't wait to get them home.

Can You Figure This Out?

We had a warm Wednesday last week, and Brian and I decided to go on an evening walk around our neighborhood. Not only do we live in Greektown, we live just blocks from the University of Illinois at Chicago. So we see a ton of college kids around. We were approaching what you see below, and I thought I was going crazy. I in fact, almost stepped on a dead bird and Brian had to pull me over. Can you figure it out? If you see on the left another set of signs. Well, that is above a drop off that is the actual freeway.

So I was thinking, noo, the city really wouldn't do that would they? Is there some sort of mirror/reflecting agent I can't see?

We then walked up to the two people standing there and I got an inkling of what it might be. Anyways, we asked them if they knew the story, and they said they were the artists. Of course! I love it! How clever, and to have it on ground level next to the freeway below. It made me laugh, and still does. In addition, they told us that they have been working on it all semester. The thing is about two weeks ago they started construction and added the orange signs to the real freeway sign. I imagine when the artist saw that they were like, ahhh, now we have to adjust ours too so it is realistic. Boy, is it realistic. We couldn't stop staring at it and I think we made the artists really happy.

An installation piece just steps from our door. I love living in the city. You never know what you may stumble upon.

Greek Independence Day

So for those of you who aren't Greek, or who don't live in Greektown, March 25th is Greek Independence Day. We live right off the parade route that happens every year on this day. In fact they close the street right in front of our house. Of course, if you know anything about March in Chicago you know that it is a cold, gray month and the day of the parade is normally freezing. I always feel so bad for the girls in the Greek outfits on the floats.

So this year they decided to have the parade on April 25th. I'm sure it was because they thought the weather would cooperate. And wouldn't you know it April 25th was a windy, sleety, cold Sunday. We didn't even go out on our porch to look at the parade. We just watched from inside our cozy house. This year I felt bad for all the businesses who no doubt were counting on a big revenue day. We did bundle up to walk to church and caught a few bikes waiting for their owners to finish a big Greek meal, no doubt. Aren't they cool!

I guess we will all have to wait for the Greektown festival the last weekend of August for a warm Greek festival. It is always one of the last we go to each summer and a little bittersweet.

On another note, I think it would be cool to learn Greek to communicate with some of the business owners, and older folks of the neighborhood in their native language. So I asked a local cafe owner how difficult it is. He said second only to Cantonese. Yikes! There goes that idea. I guess if we decided to live here forever, I might give it a go but with Brian's family's language being Cantonese, I figure I already have a challenging language to learn.

Sunday, March 28, 2010

St. Patty's Day

Just blocks from our place in Greektown is the bar Dugan's, which any other time of the year I never even realized is Irish. St. Patrick's Day is huge here in Chicago, but Brian and I usually don't do much. Standing out in the cold to watch them dye the river green, or to watch the Southside parade just never appealed to me. Plus they celebrate it the weekend before, so I am always caught off guard.

This year it fell on a Wednesday. The parade was cancelled this year since it had turned into a drunken-fest and the river had already been dyed, but Brian had a hankering for an Irish pub. So we went to Dugan's, and it seemed all Irish. We went for a drink, stayed for a few and then went home and cooked cornmed beef and cabbage. A proper St. Patty's Day was had by all.

Best Looking Room

Strangely, the best decorated room in our house is our guest bathroom (hint, hint, come visit). About a year ago we came across this cute poster in out of my favorite boutiques, Penelope's.

It has been sitting in our closet waiting for us to frame it. Do you know how expensive custom framing is? Crazy.

So we finally framed it yeah, and of course that means that if I wanted to hang it in our bathroom I would have to upgrade the rest of the bathroom. So I quickly bought a fabulous etage from Restoration Hardware and beautiful towels, and rug. Now I am so happy with how it turned out. Love it.

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Gun Range

So Friday afternoon my company always has a 4:00 o'clock meeting that inevitably starts at 5:30pm. Ahh, how obnoxious. Who wants their weekend to start at 7:00? So this past Friday at 6:30 after the meeting was substantially over, my boss decided that it would be a good time to discuss where we should go on the company outing. Seriously, we are going to discuss this now! So what ensued was about 7 of us yelling out and shooting down suggestions(no pun intended as you will soon find out). So I suggest a cool bar or whirlyball while another colleague suggests car racing and then Brooke suggests a gun range. Yup, you heard it right, a gun range for a company outing. And then my boss said, "Yeah that sounds great." What! I know we might all have a bit of stress and pent up agression but seriously, this would have to be a first for even our company. So when it came down to it I was the ONLY person opposed to going to a gun range. How that was, I am not sure. Then I got the questions, seriously Lissa you wouldn't shoot a gun. I won't get into that here, but really how is this appropriate for a work event?

So previously during that "meeting" my boss suggested inviting some people that might be prospective employees to this yet undecided work outing. Now, I don't know about you, but inviting a perspective employee to an event where we let down our hair and have a few drinks may not be the best way to impress. When I got home and started telling Brian about the gun range and prospective employee idea . . . you can see where this is going. . What you don't want to work with us (as you hold a .38 caliber in your hand). We laughed and laughed.

Weird meeting! My bet is still on whirlyball.

Louder Than A Bomb!

This is our second year going to the finals of the Louder Than a Bomb poetry slam. The slam started with about 650 youth poets that get widdled down to about 20 for the finals. The students stretch from the Chicago Public Schools to the Chicago suburbs. The finals are in an old theater here in Chicago, The Vic and are certainly inspiring.

It is truly amazing to see such creative and talented students have the courage to stand up in front of at least 1000 spectators and poor their hearts out. Even as an educator, it is sometimes hard to recognize teenage voices. And here they are channeled into such a positive endeavor. The themes generally cluster around identity, love, breakups, and relationships with parents. All topics we can all relate to from our adolescence. They then sprinkle in politics, poverty, and Chicago Public School violence and inequality.

It is especially special to go to a Poetry Slam here in Chicago. The Slam was developed here by a gentleman Marc Smith at The Green Mill (yes, where Capone hung out). He came up with the ideas as a trick to get more people listening to poetry. The idea is poets perform a poem in 3 minutes or less and then they are judged on a scale from 1-10. At The Green Mill the prize is usually $5. But as they say "the point is not the points, it's the POETRY" If you don't like the poem as it is being read you can snap it off the stage and if you think the scores are too low then you can scream, "listen to the poem".

There are two best things about Louder Than a Bomb:

1. It gives you a chance to listen to the powerful youth voices of Chicago
2. You never know what the next peom will bring, humor, tears or both.

Here is the the 2008 festival where Brian and I were first listened.


Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Have You Ever

Gone on a date with some guy that whistles at you out of a car? Really, what do they expect you to do, stop in your tracks and give them your number. As spring approaches and more people have their windows down, and women are finally not wearing as many layers, I have noticed this trend again. I'm not sure if it is brave or stupid to say something. I myself been driven along side of and cat-called and it is HORRIBLE. I just don't really get why and what one expects.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Trend I Am Tired Of

People, really, I am tired of you going out to do something specifically to write a book about it. To then profit off it. These are NOT memoirs. They get shelves with biographies and memoirs at the bookstore and then you are browsing looking for an actual biography and you get-My year of not buying anything: How I survived and what I learned. Like we care. Really this is just an experience you specifically planned to then write a book. In my mind that is totally cheating, not a real way to have an experience.

Some examples:

Whe woman who did everything Oprah told her to do-then wrote a book
The man that read every volumn of the encyclopedia-then wrote a book
My year living at the monastary
My year only buying things that I can meet the person who produced it

These are just a few that I personally have seen or heard of. If I did an Amazon search, just imagine.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Studying For The BAR Exam

In exactly 2 weeks Brian and I will be celebrating. Brian is studying for the Ca BAR exam and I am mesmerized by the sheer amount of usless knowledge he has to stuff into his head, because I want to move to CA. What a husband. Meanwhile, I am so bored by this process. Since the New Year it has really been like: work 8 hours: eat: study until 10 and talk to Lissa for15 minutes: sleep: repeat. Then eight hours a day on the weekends.

People keep telling me, "Enjoy the free time." To be honest I have much more fun hanging out with Brian than alone and it's not like I want to run out and enjoy the balmy 15 degree weather (hence wanting to get out of frigid Chicago). What and leave him alone to study for an exam that he is pretty much talking for me. Not so much.

I just finished my mid-year eval for work where I had to rate myself 1-4 in like 15 categories. Then I have to email it to my boss and he rates me. Shouldn't he have to rate me BEFORE he sees mine, so that mine doesn't influence him. Exactly, that's what I thought. I will try to suggest that, and see how it goes.

On February 28th it will be exactly one year that I have been out of the classroom. Wow, I am so much more relaxed. I am not sure how you all do it, my teacher friends. I get anxious just thinking about it.

We will be in sunny Ontario, Ca from the 20th-27th. Yeah! Think happy thoughts for Brian!