27 December 2013

Christmas Is Over

This pretty much sums up my last week.  Between taking the GRE, driving across the state of Michigan, learning that *gasp* I might actually like dark beer, and returning to a quiet and crisp Chicago, I feel like I've done and seen a lot. But also, oddly enough, my batteries are completely recharged, I'm ready for 2014 and all the good it will bring with it.

Here's a little peek into some of the things Andrew and I did on our Christmas vacation. Not pictured are all of the wonderful family and friends we saw and hosts we stayed with. You all are so warm and gracious for hosting us! If you are reading this, please come and stay with either of us on your next visit to the Windy City!!

On Sunday, Andrew and I visited East Lansing to so he could show me where he went to school, all of the places he "rioted", which buildings he slept in, and where he bought his records. A particular plus to the visit was that a massive ice storm had swept through that part of Michigan the night before, so the entire campus was covered in a sheen of glistening gorgeous ice. It was magical. Here's a photo of me being an ice queen.

While on campus, we also stopped by the beautiful new Eli and EdythE Broad Art Museum. My mouth watered at the newness of it. The sharp angles made for a precarious and confusing layout that left room for surprise and amazement as we walked through the space. Also, props for including a gallery for New Media and a gallery devoted to film. This is a big win! And even cooler/nerdier, is the store room that you can actually see into, making it possible to view art in the environment that it is stored  in while not on display. I basically loved this museum, and am super excited for the opportunities it offers East Lansing and MSU. High fives to everyone involved. 

As mentioned above, Andrew and I went to six breweries over the course of the weekend. We visited Three Floyds in Munster, IN where I had a Dusseldorf style beer called "Dorsia" that was delicious - it was sweet, a pretty amber color, and only available for a short period of time, so I tried not to get too attached. 

We went to Jolly Pumpkin and Arbor Brewing Company in Ann Arbor, MI - neither of which really left an imprint on me at all (sry, not sry). I remember liking what I had at Arbor but not much beyond that. 

Dark Horse Brewing Co. in Marshall, MI (pictured above) was the real winner for us. He had a blueberry stout and I had 4 Elves which was dark but god damn delicious! We both finished our drinks in the warmth of the heavily mug-clad room, and I was hoping we could stay for one more! I also learned what a mug club is, and I want to find a mug club in Chicago. Mug clubs are like book clubs, only they involve beer, and have nothing to do with book clubs.

Here's a photo of us trying to take a photo at Dark Horse. Clearly I'm lovin' it.

We then drove to Arcadia Ales in Battlecreek, MI which had a not so cool vibe. We stayed for a pint, didn't love it, and then drove to our final destination, Bells Brewery in Kalamazoo, MI. Bells ruled! We shared a pint, by this point, I was not paying attention (obvs, beer, duh) - but they recently expanded and added a performance space to their complex where they were screening Christmas movies! We order pork tacos and spinach dip, guzzled beer, ate popcorn, and watched the tail end of A Christmas Story before heading home. It was dreamy.

Christmas eve was delightful. We stayed with Andrew's family in Muskegon, MI and had heartwarming lasagna, followed by apple crisp and hot toddies. We exchanged gifts, and I finally saw It's A Wonderful Life. That movie IS good. I'm shocked it took me this long to see it! Basically, Christmas eve was lovely, warm, and wonderful! With good company gathered around a fire, what else could I have asked for?

Christmas was super lowkey and mainly involved driving from Michigan back to Chicago. We headed straight into Chinatown for some light shopping and dinner at Ming Hin. Andrew and I picked up plenty of weird kitsch, and I enjoyed the heck out of my garlic eggplant - though I was disappointed in the overall meal. I'm just gonna go out on a limb and say that Ming Hin is way better for dim sum than dinner, lesson learned. Following Chinese food, in true Jewish Christmas fashion, we headed to the Landmark Century to see a screening of "Her". No comment, just go see it. :)

And here we are, back in Chicago. I'm at work for the rest of this week - but everyone is out on holiday still, so the office-life is pretty pleasant and quiet. Chicago is also quiet, the trains aren't crowded, there's practically no one out and about in the morning... I sort of like it! 

How was your holiday? Did you get what you wanted for Christmas? What are some of your traditions? Andrew and I have yet to exchange gifts, but I already feel like I got exactly what I wanted! Good company, and a drinking buddy who lets me read Sarah Silverman's memoir to him out loud.

20 December 2013

This Weekend

Christmasssssss Presentsssss via source
- Taking the dreaded GRE (been putting this off since 2009). Also for your reading pleasure, the rules I have to follow for tomorrow's test. Some highlights: 1) I can't bring a phone into the building, 2) I cannot wear a digital watch, 3) I might be fingerprinted, thumbprinted, videotaped, or photographed, 4) I cannot bring a firearm with me, 5) my hat, scarf, coat are all subject to inspection. And you wonder why I have been putting this off...
- Leaving for Michigan right after my test! Stopping for snacks and beer along the way!
- Grand Rapids for drinks and dinner!
- Seeing the MSU campus and hopefully seeing the beautiful new Broad Art Museum
- Meeting a cute baby!
- Brewery tours on Monday!
- Christmas presents and Christmas treats with Andrew and his family
- Jewish xmas dinner in Chinatown on the 25th!
- Working on my application for my dream school :)

Can't wait to don my Christmas apparel!

18 December 2013

Oh, Baby I Love Your Way

Last week, Andrew and I went to two different in-store performances at Logan Hardware and Bric A Brac - some of our favorite record stores in Chicago. Our life last week began to resemble pages of High Fidelity, not the sad ones, but the cool ones. The pages about hanging out in record stores, pouring over bins of records, listening to bands I've never heard of, having records signed, feeling cool and involved in something greater than myself. It was really really fun, and not to mention, free!

Dikes of Holland Wailing via Spin Magazine
Monday night we saw Dikes of Holland and The Wet play at Bric A Brac. Strange to be at a tiny, loud, DIY style show on a Monday after work - but the girl Liz from Dikes of Holland was adorable, could wail her heart out, and they were from Austin. Basically, everything I hear and see from Austin makes me think I would love Austin. Texas, I think I am visiting you this year.

Ricky B via the Reader
Saturday afternoon was a pretty magical experience. We saw Ricky B perform at Logan Hardware - and he was backed by a Chicago brass band. It was so so so cool. I'm talking interesting, love-filled NOLA rap backed by the sounds of a local brass band. The whole thing was so strange and wonderful that I couldn't help but smile the entire performance. He had us throwing our hands in the air, chanting "one love", and oh my goodness, the energy was unreal.  After the performance, Andrew and I met Ricky B (nicest dude), and he signed a record for us! Buzzing from good music and good vibes, we found ourselves playing pinball and Donkey Kong in the video game museum in the back of Logan Hardware. Such a good afternoon!

Ricky B and the brass band photo cred Andrew
I highly suggest picking his record up, it's fabulous. Take a listen to Shake It Fo Yo Hood, and try not to bounce a little.

17 December 2013

I'm Your Density

George McFly, my destiny spirit animal via NeoGaf
Without going into too much detail, for fear of counting my chickens before they hatch, I made a BIG life decision two weeks ago and am slowly cracking away at it with a hard deadline of February 1st, 2014. It involves following my dreams, leading with my heart, and embracing my undying love of art and museums. It's my destiny, I know it. So if my writing on here is a little quiet or vague, it's because I am working on some big changes and I am strangely superstitious about gabbing about my future without having everything in place... more soon, I promise.

13 December 2013

This Weekend

Big gif via Bustle

- Office holiday party tonight
- Sleeping in and brunch making
- Finishing the last bit of holiday shopping (strict budget!)
- Three holiday parties on Saturday
- Making spinach dip
- Reading another memoir
- Moving my bed away from my window

This is the first year that I am not celebrating the holidays with my Art Institute fundraising team - and boy am I feeling it! We had one of the most epic holiday grab bag stealing gift exchanges ever, on top of having a generally rowdy time together. Tonight's affair with my new team will probably be way less rowdy, but I am bringing Andrew as my date, and I think we will go out for a night on the town afterwards! Do I smell Rainbo Club and Picante? Tomorrow will involve a crazy amount of holiday parties, I actually suggested we make an itinerary for the evening, because I am Type A. What are you doing for the holidays? I can't believe December is already halfway through!

12 December 2013

Oh Chicago, Why Are You So Charming??

How amazing is this project / video? A magical piano is set up in Chicago's Union Station and it interacts with passersby and those wishing to have spontaneous duets. This video warms my heart and tickles me to know that I live in such a special and strange city full of whimsy and magic.

Visit Me at Side Dish Mag

I did a guest post over on Side Dish Mag yesterday, full of my tips and tricks to surviving the god awful beautifully crisp Midwestern winter. How do you fill your winter time? Do you stay inside and hibernate? Do you ski or snowboard? Is there something you plan on accomplishing this winter? I'm planning on reading, watching Seinfeld, baking, and keeping my complaining to a minimum :)

11 December 2013

My Holiday Wishlist

I've already received the one major thing I asked for this season - a pair of spankin' new Ugg boots (this is not a joke friends). But it's always fun to put together a wishlist for goodies here and there that I am pining for. Without further ado, my wishlist, with links for your buying-me-presents-convenience. Spoiler alert: I'm basically asking for socks, books, a hat, and a Carrie Bradshaw name necklace. Twenty-five feels pretty damn practical if you ask me.

The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt
Rockcastle Hat by Carhartt in Coastline Heather
PDH Nordic Light Socks by Smartwool
Personal Blender by Hamilton Beach
Return Address Stamp by Ampersandity
Teenage Dream on Vinyl by Katy Perry
Mastering the Art of French Eating by Ann Mah
Carrie Bradshaw Style Name Necklace in Gold
Juicer Attachment for Kitchenaid Mixer

06 December 2013

This Weekend

via Elite Daily
- Trying to make this beautiful banana bread recipe from For Me For You
- Holiday girls only (boys yuck!) slumber party / potluck / girl sesh
- Renegade Craft Fair Holiday Sale
- Maybe peeping this Tasting Table Event at Block 37
- Losing myself in Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me (And Other Concerns)
- Running outside in my snazzy new outdoor running gear
- Hanging more art / artifacts on my walls
- Getting my hair snipped at Penny Lane
- Breakfast brunch for my grandmother

04 December 2013

Baby's First 5K

Baby's first 5K

I did it! I successfully participated in my first 5K! And it wasn't as bad or dreadful as I thought it would be. I know, you are probably thinking, what's the big idea? What could be so awful about Sandy doing a 5K?? But the truth of it is, I am not an athlete (shoutout to Mindy Kaling for also not being an athlete!). In fact, up until the last month or so, I pretty much loathed the idea of running/jogging. But I've been working out three to four days a week, walking my little tail around the city, and it is paying off. I know I am not the fastest runner, but the fact that I signed up, "trained", followed through, participated, and FINISHED is a huge milestone for me. Doing a 5K has been on my bucket list, and by golly I accomplished it!

The Ditka Dash was the perfect event for a newb to the racing game. It was very (I mean incredibly) well-organized. Picking up the packets, getting my shirt, and attending race day was absolutely seamless, thanks to the hardworking coordinators and volunteers.

The day of the race was absolutely gorgeous, mid-40's and sunny, the most wonderful weather to be running along the lakefront. Mari, Mo, Charlie and I met up for the race, and Mo & Charlie did the race with great speed and alacrity. Mari and I took our time, jogging half and speed walking the other half. My goal was to complete it in under 45 minutes, and I did it in 41! We were rewarded with beers and fruit snacks. But beyond completing my goal and drinking beers in a faux mustache, I enjoyed the wonderful Chicago pride that pulsated among the runners. Everyone was SO into the Ditka theme, I felt like a bit of an impostor! Chicago is such a wonderful city, and to be running with a crowd of people who just plain love Da Coach, toward the gorgeous sunny skyline took my breath away. I highly suggest doing a 5K in Chicago, and this one was super duper fun.

I'm up for doing another one (in under 41 minutes), if anyone has any suggestions or wants to be my running buddy!

02 December 2013

Urban Belly's New Digs, Or "How I Attained a Recipe from Bill Kim"

Urban Belly
Chinese Eggplant, Phat Rice, Chang Beer
Boom, and like that, Thanksgiving was over. Done. Finito. Bye bye. No more. I am still in recovery from how much good food I noshed between Wednesday and Sunday. Let's take an inventory shall we?

Wednesday: Dinner at Urban Belly, second dinner at Smoque BBQ.
Thursday: Thanksgiving - PQM Turkey, Sweet Mandy B's Chocolate Cream Pie, a million sides made to perfection.
Friday: Leftovers followed by La Colombe Coffee with an Alliance Bakery Croissant. Drinks and dinner at Dillman's. Another drink at Lone Wolf.
Saturday: BLTs and Bloodies at Chop Shop. Ice cream at Margie's Candies.
Sunday: Homemade brunch, latkes and brisket at Dad's.

Yes, I ate amazing food from start to finish over the course of the last few days. Regrets: none. Also, I managed to participate in a 5K on Saturday and don't feel worse for the wear. Note: I said participate rather than "ran". Truth: I ran half, and sped walked the other half. Either way, I did it, I felt great, and they gave me a beer and fruit snacks at the end!

Now on to the point of this post. I visited the new location of Urban Belly attached to BellyQ - and thank goodness for the new location. Way more seating, a newish menu (lots of dumpling choices!), and guess what? Delivery. This place is going to be offering DELIVERY in the very near future. You heard it first, here, from me. The vibe was pretty much the same as the old locale, but rather than ordering from a walk-up counter, there is table service here. We had no problem getting a table, but again, we were there the Wednesday evening before Thanksgiving. I'd like to give the place another whirl on a busy Saturday afternoon or Friday after work to peep the vibe, see how crowded it is. But this place is walkable from the Loop, and a stone's throw from so many good bars and restaurants, not to mention galleries, that I see myself eating my way through the menu in the next month or so.

As for the food, it was the tits, as per usual. But there was one wrinkle... my beloved wrinkle beans were removed from the menu. I was heartbroken to say the least. But Bill Kim was there, and naturally, I inquired... to which he responded by teaching me how to make the wrinkle beans at home. I penned the recipe down on the back of my receipt, all I need is a wok. And a secret ingredient. He shared with me, that the secret to delicious wrinkle beans is the balanced proportion of Chinese black beans to sundried tomatoes. When I asked where to get black beans, he rattled off some locations in Chinatown, then ran back to his kitchen to give me some of the tomato/black bean mixture to take home. Yes, I was given an ingredient from Chef Bill Kim's kitchen.


Wrinkle beans recipe
My beans!
Stop the presses, I have died and gone to heaven. As soon as I make my beans, I will let you know how they turn out! But OMG, Bill Kim, you've wowed me again. Everyone, please support his restaurants, his food, and his person. He's good people, I promise.