I'm in a winter wonderland!

You know how new parents always take pictures of their baby’s first this, and their baby’s first that?  Well, that’s how I feel except I’m the baby (is that a weird analogy?).

Before you non-Floridians start freaking out: I have seen snow before, multiple times in fact.  I’ve been sledding, skiing, made snow angels and even a snowman head once when I was little.  So it’s not that.  I’ve just never seen snow in this capacity.

I guess the real novelty stems from the fact I’ve never really seen snow fall before, at least definitely not like it did yesterday.  Last Thursday, it virtually never stopped snowing.  And I soaked up every minute of it.

As I walked home from the train Thursday evening, I couldn’t stop smiling.  There was so much snow all around me, piled on trees, covering cars, poking me in the eye (no worries, it didn’t require an ER visit like the microbead).

Isn't it beautiful?

In honor of my first real snow day and the start of my first Chicago winter my friend and I celebrated with a bottle of pink bubbly.  Cheers!

Tossing snow. Bubbly in hand.

Happy 2012!

I know, I know.  I’ve failed you the past month and half.  I’m sorry.   But no worries, as my title suggests, I’m back.

Not to be original or anything, my first post of the new year will briefly outline my new year’s resolutions.  Do note that I’ve never really made new year’s resolutions before, but now is as good of a time than ever, right?  I’ve also decided, if I make them and post them for all of the world to read, I’ll be more inclined to hold myself accountable.

These are in no specific order:

1.  Blog more – I think at least once every 2 weeks seems reasonable.

2.  Avoid ruts. – I want to constantly try new things, meet new people, discover new Chicago Gems.  Basically, keep life fresh.

3.  Stop dreaming.  Just do it already!

4.  Cultivate my relationships.

Here’s to a brand new year!  Cheers!

 

 

 

 

I can’t believe it’s already Thanksgiving.  I may be wishing people a happy Turkey Day but it I can’t say it actually feels like Thanksgiving.  It’s not because I’ll be working at my serving job all day tomorrow (Yes we’re open.  I’m still trying to figure out who goes to Buca di Beppo, an Italian restaurant, for Thanksgiving dinner but you’ll be surprised how many people already have reservations.), or because I’m not going to Tallahassee or because I don’t have the Publix Pilgrim salt and pepper shakers.

It’s because for the first time in my entire life I’m not going on “Thanksgiving Break.”  I’m not in school anymore so those breaks that have defined my holidays no longer exist.  Crazy!

I know this probably sounds silly to those of you who’ve been out of school for years, but you have to understand where I’m coming from.  On the bright side, I’m not prepping for final exams in two weeks (not that I ever studied this far in advance)!

I don’t have any phenomenal blog post topics right now, hence my recent lack of posts, but I wanted to take a moment to give thanks.  This has been such an amazing year and I truly have SO much to be thankful for, but I couldn’t even begin to cover everything if I tried so I’m going to stick to the highlights:

1. My friends, old and new – I couldn’t have had such a smooth transition to this amazing city without your support.  Thanks to those of you “old friends” who believed in me and my big city dreams.  And thanks to those of you “new friends” who welcomed me into your Chicago life.

2. My mom – Poor woman still deals with all my bullshit and I’m more than 900 miles away.  She also gives me wake up calls in the morning because I’m paranoid about oversleeping.

3. My blog readers – Thank you.  Yes, YOU!  Writing this blog is a complete blast and it wouldn’t be as fun if no one was reading so please continue.  I hope you’re enjoying reading it as much as I am writing it!

I wish each and every one of you a very Happy Thanksgiving!  Eat lots of corn casserole for me, it’s my favorite.  And for you Floridian readers, I hope you have a Publix Dutch Apple Pie for desert because that’s seriously where it’s at!

Oh and if you haven’t seen Google’s site yet, check it out.  The turkey is adorable and if you click on his appendages (are feathers considered appendages?) he does cute things!

Chicago Gem (n.) – places in Chicago that people may not know about and/or don’t appear on any of Chicago’s “Top Things To Do” lists but are super cool, fun and make me feel like a true Chicagoian

I discovered this Chicago Gem last week when my friend and I wanted to do something low-key and not too expensive.

[Completely unrelated side note: This is the second post in a row I’ve talked about friends, Chicago friends.  I have real friends here! It’s so exciting!!!!!]

Like I was saying, The Vic Theatre is an old vaudeville house built in 1912.  So cool right?  And now Thursday – Saturday it serves as a concert venue and Sunday – Wednesday it shows movies.

On movie nights it’s called “the Brew & View” because it has a bar so you can drink and watch movies at the same time.  The movies are a mix of old and just released on DVD.  For instance when I went last Wednesday, Shark Night, CrazyStupidLove and Young Frankenstein was showing.

But here is the best part:  you pay $5 and you can see all three or just one or two, your choice (and it depends on when you show up).  All I’m saying is, I’ve never found a theater in Tallahassee or Orlando that could beat that deal.

Halloween is definitely one of my favorite Holidays.  Especially now that I’m well passed the awkward stage of being too old to trick-or-treat and too young to go to Halloween parties.  But I’d never considered what Halloween was like in a city (I’ve visited New York twice during the winter holidays and thus, have very high expectations for Chicago) so I wasn’t sure what to expect from my first Chicago Halloween.

As of last Thursday I had no official Halloween plans (“adults” celebrate Halloween over the weekend, Friday and Saturday nights) so I didn’t really spend much time thinking of costume ideas.  And I have a love/hate relationship with Halloween costumes.  There are just so many elements to consider: price, originality, not too obscure, reuse, only sexy if the costume actually calls for it (aka Miss Scarlet from Clue).  Basically, I do not take the Mean Girls approach to Halloween costumes, however, many Chicagoians do.

"In the regular world, Halloween is when children dress up in costumes and beg for candy. In Girl World, Halloween is the one night a year when a girl can dress like a total slut and no other girls can say anything about it."

Then change of plans, Friday night I find myself  scrambling for a costume.  It was 1a.m., I was working a double that started at 10 a.m. the next morning so I was forced to use clothes I already had in my closet (not that I’m complaining about free) and this was the result:

Can you guess?

How about now?  (C’mon, this one is a giveaway)

The Big Reveal:

What do you think?  I was reminiscent of Carrie Bradshaw from the Sex and the City opener, only me, Jess in the City!  Yay!

Anyways, my Chicago Halloween was a super fun time.  My friend from UCF/Brazil and I went to a few bars in an area called Old Town to meet up with some other friends.

Cheers!

Unfortunately, I had to wear a coat (not pictured above) which threw off the costume some, but that’s the name of the game.  Besides, cold weather always throws a kink in costumes, even in Florida.  I will never forget trick-or-treating as a kid, I was Nala from The Lion King and my mom made me wear a jacket.  I was so upset.  I go “MA-OM, lions don’t wear jackets!”  Oh yeah, and my shoe broke on our way to the bar (another costume flaw) but I managed.

Next year I want to play a Halloween scavenger hunt-ish game.  You have a costume check list and any time you see someone wearing one of the costumes on the list you have to take a picture with them.  (I saw someone doing this on the train so I can’t take all of the credit.)  But doesn’t that sound like fun?!  Not to mention, it’d make a great Facebook album and Facebook is life!  Just kidding.

I hope all you reading had a wonderful Halloween too!

What I have pictured above was my winter wardrobe.  A few jackets (some more for style than actual warmth, i.e. jean jacket), hoodie, raincoat (which is a relatively recent edition) and of course, my red peacoat for the coldest of days.  These items of winter-wear have served me well the past few years, in Florida that is.

Now that I’m living in Chicago, it’s a whole new ball game.  At least that’s what they say, “they” being literally everyone who hears about my move.  But, I have a theory: surviving winter is all about preparation.  If you have the right tools, you can fix the car.  If I have all the appropriate winter gear, I’ll still be here come March.  I’m the first to admit I really have no clue what I’m talking about, but at least it sounds like I do.

That being said, here are the newest and most valuable additions to my winter wardrobe:

Sorel Snow Boots

The North Face Trench

I never thought of all the things that needed to be considered when trying to winterize your wardrobe.  And yes, “winterize” is an actual word although I agree, it sounds like one of those fake words that eventually catches on like “bootylicious.”

Winter Boot Buying Guide
They need to keep your feet and lower leg warm and dry in both snow and slush.  So I went with Sorel.  It’s a popular boot and brand owned by Columbia.  I chose these particular boots because they’re waterproof (rubber bottom and leather top), lightweight, supposed to keep your feet warm in negative degree conditions, and had decent reviews.

Another popular option for trudging through snow and slush are rain boots with sock inserts.  Lots of people seem to own Hunter boots and then have Welly Sock inserts that they trade out depending on their style for that day.

Eventually I’d like to buy some Hunters but I want yellow ones and that color isn’t currently in season.  I’m keeping my fingers crossed for spring!

Winter Coat Buying Guide (Chicago Edition)
There are three main characteristics to keep in mind when looking for a coat for Chicago: waterproof, windproof, and warm.  Warm is the most obvious but according to locals, blogs, and store attendants, newbies (like me) forget about the first two.  It was also highly recommend to buy a coat that was long, like at least to the knee.

I definitely went with an “I’d rather spend more money for a quality coat that’ll last me a long time and actually keep me warm, than buy sometime cheap one that I hope will do the job” approach, so that’s why I bought the coat pictured above from The North Face.  However, this also meant it was expensive.  It broke my heart a little (and my bank a lot) to spend that kind of money but I’m hoping, praying it’ll be worth it.  I figure if I wear it every day during winter for the next 1383980 years it’ll only come out to less than a penny a day.  It’s not so bad when you think about it that way.

Not only did my purchase have all the qualities I was looking for and need in a coat, but it also did this:

Yes, yes that is the same coat from the first picture.  What you’re looking at this time is the versatility of this bad boy – it’s three coats in one.  The 550 feather down coat zips in (and out) of a water/wind proof shell.  So I can wear both during the worst of conditions, just the down feather part if it’s just cold, or just the outer shell if it’s not too cold but raining.

Pretty nifty huh?

That’s all the spending I can do for now.  I’d eventually like to add a few more scarves, hats, and gloves (preferably iPhone compatible ones) but I’m done with the bank-breakers.  Hopefully I’ll be writing another post in March praising my purchases and telling you my preparation was a success. . . But I guess you’ll have to keep reading my blog to find out.  (And that was my attempt at writing a cliff-hanger.  Are you biting your nails?)

Yes, it’s true but it’s not that simple.

I was washing my face this morning before work.  The face wash I use (third from the left) is a “purifying pore scrub” and thus has super fine microbeads.

I accidentally got the face wash in my left eye and it burned like a mo-fo.  Seriously, so bad.  I couldn’t open my eye so I tried splashing water in it to rinse it out, blah blah blah – nothing worked.  It felt like the microbeads were lodged in the top part of my eye.  I tried looking in the mirror and could barely see much less open my eyelids.

This continued for 30 minutes when I started panicking because I needed to leave for work soon.  I called my restaurant, no managers in yet.  I called my friends to get the manager’s numbers, no luck.  I couldn’t just not show up for work but I needed to go to a walk-in, I was afraid of the microbead or that it’d scratched my eye because it was still very painful.  Besides, I was in no state to serve.  In addition to the pain, my eye was gushing water and my nose sniffling (when my eye waters, my nose always goes crazy too).

Blind, I grab my work bag and rushed to the train.  I figured I’d go in, show them my dilemma and ask where the nearest walk-in was.  Again, I couldn’t be a no-show and since I’m still new I don’t want to give them any poor impressions.

The Train Ride
People sitting next to me probably thought I was crazy or lost a loved one or something because water was still streaming down my left cheek and nose still running.  Some nice(?) woman gave me a crumpled napkin she pulled out of her pocket.  Apprehensive and frankly, mildly grossed out, I accepted and then threw it away in the nearest trash can.

Work was great and they let me go.  But not before confirming that there were no walk-in clinics in downtown Chicago and my only option was yes, the Northwestern Hospital ER.

Northwestern Memorial Hospital

The ER
Confession:  I couldn’t have felt more ridiculous explaining to the nurse my situation.

I assured them I wasn’t dying, would’ve much preferred a walk-in than an ER, and was concerned about what I was sure was a microbead stuck in my eye.  Some Asian med student examined my eye and the whole time I could only think about how pissed Christina Yang would be if she were stuck with me and my microbead.

“You have a what in your where? Ugh.”

Long story short (sorry, I’m trying to condense), they numbed my eye (OUCHHH!) and then douched it.  [Insert joke here]

I can’t find a picture and I would’ve taken one except I felt like that seemed inappropriate since I was in the ER, but it looked like a giant contact that fit in your eye and had a whole which leaked water solution from an IV bag into your eye rinsing it.  This lasted for 15 minutes and was discomforting to say the least.  I was beginning to think they just did something that hurt worse so I’d never show up to the ER again with a problem like this.

Anyways, I’m alive, home, and my eye feels better but not 100 percent.  In the meantime, I’ll probably lay off the microbead face scrubs for a while.

My advice for you is to be careful when taking on such a dangerous task as washing your face.  My advice for Chicago is to get a walk-in clinic downtown.

I dedicate this post to my dear friend Alli.

Isn't she lovely?

I’m sorry I didn’t realize it was your birthday on Monday and I’m more sorry I accidentally outed myself.  In case I don’t realize the date (aka forget) next year or any year after, Happy Birthday forever and always!

Acting like awkward school kids before seeing The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee.

Since moving to Chicago my schedule has been far from consistent.  Yes, I have a job but it’s serving, only been two weeks and my hours change every week.

Basically, what I’m trying to say is I don’t really keep track of dates anymore.  I generally always know what day of the week it is, but actual dates hardly ever.  This lack of date-tracking recently got me in a situation…

Here is how it went down:

FACEBOOK CHAT FAIL  [Clean Version]
Oct. 10, 10:30p.m.

Me: How is everything?  How are the new friends?
Friend:  haha they’re gooood, it was one of their birthdays yesterday so we had like a joint party on Saturday and I [had a blast]!
Me:  (Right now I’m confused because she talking as if it was a party for her too.  And so of course, I just start typing everything I’m thinking – big mistake.)
did I miss your birthday?
HOLY [COW]!  I’m such an [jerk]
OMG!  It’s right now.
omg… I just outed myself
Happy Birthday!

Needless to say, I learned a lot that night:  1.) always look at the calendar (OR Facebook birthday reminders) and 2.) don’t type stream of conscious during instant messaging.

Writing this post is my last chance at redeeming myself.  Love you!

Oldie but goodie.

Even this one is old. It's a sign you need to come visit!

I was walking down Michigan Avenue when I saw a not so familiar window:

At first I was trying to figure out what store was hosting some major Post It promotion.  I’ve never seen Office Space, so I immediately thought of that scene in Bruce Almighty for which I can’t find a picture of. . .

Anyways the sidewalks were crowded in front of this Post It display so it took me a second to realize where exactly I was.  Can you tell now?

If you’re still unsure, it’s in front of the Apple store.

I couldn’t believe it.  I’d seen a picture of a bouquet of flowers someone left in the doorway of the store on Fifth Avenue in New York but I haven’t really followed the news since Wednesday when Steve Jobs died so I was not expecting anything, much less anything like this.  There were seriously SO MANY Post Its.  Stuck as high as arms could reach.  I couldn’t get a good picture because it was crowded but people also left flowers, cards and most appropriate: apples.

I was touched.  I was glad I happened to walk down Michigan Avenue and able to experience this so I wanted to share it with you.  Steve Jobs was a brilliant, creative force gone too soon.  I’m proud to say I took the photos using an iPhone and wrote this on a MacBook Pro.

Today I was in Lincoln Park on my way to grab a some dinner with a friend at Potbelly.  For my Tallahassee readers: no I’m not referring to the trashy, yet FSU classic, bar Potbelly’s (with an “s”).  Potbelly is a sandwich shop that trumps JimmyJohns and Firehouse, but honestly I don’t like those places anyways.  Basically, it’s a Chicago MUST.  Mmmm, so yummy…. wow, I’ve digressed.

On our way to sandwich heaven, we passed Pocket Puppies, a pet store specializing in teacup dogs.

She was sleeping until the paparazzi (aka me) woke her.

Now, I’ve never been the biggest fan of pet shops.  Seeing the cute animals in those tiny, white boxes always made me a little sad.  And I think my mom in kind of against them, although I don’t know why.  I guess I just adopted her view without ever thinking twice about it.  But I couldn’t resist going inside.

Aren't they just so tiny and cute?

At first I felt bad because of their (understandably) small cages, but my friend did make a good point – they get a LOT of attention.

In addition to tiny furry friends, it sells glamorous dog accessories: decorated dog biscuits, rhinestone collars, outfits, costumes, etc.  I imagine Lisa Vanderpump buying goodies for Giggy here (yes, i LOVE LOVE LOVE all things Andy, Bravo and Housewives).

The problem I face now by not fighting the temptation of going in is I want one.  I have a studio – they’re perfect!  Right?  Wrong.  They start at about $1,000.

I’ll be accepting donations for the “Jess + Pup in the City” charity.  Until then, I can go by and play with them whenever I want during store hours.

It's blurry and I can't get WordPress to rotate but still adorable.

 

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