Friday, January 29, 2010

when i grow up...

so yes, technically i'm a grown up now. despite this fact, i still feel like i'm 20 years old and i still have completely unrealistic when i grow up dreams. like when i was little i told my mom i wanted to be a stay at home mom so i could shop all day. which is so funny to think i thought i'd want to do that because i can't imagine it now nor would i actually be able to shop all day. my new when i grow up fantasies are:

1) to be a dolphin trainer.
this is utterly ridiculous for a variety of reasons. mostly because i'm not a strong swimmer. i can barely put my face in the water without plugging my nose and snorkeling really freaked me out - the ocean is up there with one of my top fears. i mean you just don't know what's down there! but i loved interacting with dolphins at the brookfield zoo when the bf got me a "wild encounter" as a gift. it still goes down in history as the best gift i have ever received. you get to see behind the scenes in the dolphin habitat then feed the dolphins, do tricks with them and touch them. the experience was so incredible and moving it made me want to do it professionally. i wonder what i'd have to do to become a dolphin trainer a the shedd aquarium (i would kill to do pretty much anything at the shedd by the way)

2) become a children's book author and illustrator.
this one isn't as far fetched only because i have some art training. i've just come to realize how much i love children's books and how absolutely magical they can be! i love the unique illustrations in classics like the polar express and the very hungry caterpillar. i love the stories that teach a lesson and values that could have a lasting impression on a little one's minds. i just wonder how you actual get your children's books published. what makes one stand out from another?

3) own a lakehouse to eventually spend retirement in.
this isn't career related but it's a big time grown up fantasy. i'm DYING to have a little cottage/lake house in michigan. i have no interest in owning a house in chicago or in a nearby suburb. i just want to focus on buying a lakehouse in the near future. i want to be able to ski every weekend till i'm too old to wear a bathing suit and have little ones running around like i was at my uncles. i want to have 4th of july parties and bbqs and a really beautiful boat. sigh, one can dream.

anyone else have any fun, slightly far fetched "when i grow up" fantasies???

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

weekend recap, billie jean & more

so this is definitely quite delayed but i had a great weekend! on friday i met my cousin for dinner at duchamp. it was nice catching up with her and enjoying a fantastic meal. i had steak and "eggs" which was actually a skirt steak with a quiche. YUM! we also had to get dessert so we had mini cupcakes and mini ice cream sandwiches. DOUBLE YUM. i would highly recommend it! after that i went to my best friend's place to visit with some of our girlfriends. it was nice to just kick back in her cozy apartment and catch up. on saturday i went to a 1st birthday party! my good friend and her husband are quite the hosts! their place was decked out in pink decor and they had a great spread of food. in fact i could barely move by the end of the party. their daughter is so precious and perfect. i'm so grateful to have the chance to watch her grow and develop. we all had a great time watching her open her presents and celebrating together. later on that night the bf and i had a date night. we've both been incredibly busy since returning from our trip so i insisted on a set date night. first we went to the fireplace inn in old town. i've always wanted to go there but found the menu to be a bit overpriced. but this seemed like a good occasion to splurge a bit. i loved the atmosphere of the restaurant and we got a good spot in their lofted area. the bf ordered bbq fried chicken with potato wedges and i got ribs with steak fries. both came with yummie salads. i loveddddd my ribs. i could seriously munch on ribs all day everyday i swear. and the bfs chicken was to die for. after that we went to piper's alley to see the imaginarium of dr. parnassus. it was alright. i wanted to see it so i'm glad we did but i certainly wouldn't watch it again. then on sunday i helped the bf pack up some items at his current apartment and move them over to his new place. he'll be moving this sunday VERY close to me. kind of funny that we just don't live together but that's a whole other story. i can tell he's very excited to have his own space and be able to make it his own home. moving was super exhausting and luckily i got to take a break and visit with my bestest over tea for awhile. just what i needed! overall it was a great weekend but a tad exhausting. i feel like i have been running around nonstop and i could definitely use some downtime. maybe this weekend...

so i got another foster kitty!!! her name is billy jean and she is very sweet. she needed foster care because she just had kittens and was spayed and needed time to recouperate. she also needs medication because they are concerned she might have tumors :(. i've had her since last tuesday and i love her to pieces. she loves to be pet and is pretty playful. she is really good about letting me give her the pills. i have to stick them far back in her mouth and shut her mouth till she swallows. it seriously breaks my heart because she hates it but she doesn't bite and is so good. now it seems she has a bit of a cold and has crazy sneezing fits. hopefully she feels better soon!

this week has been really busy with bingo on monday and an event in oakbrook yesterday. it went really well but man i'm wiped! tonight i am meeting my bestest downtown for a wine tasting and i cannot wait! it'll be nice to just relax. tomorrow is the bf's birthday!!!! i unfortunately have class after work but we're going to see a late showing of crazy heart which we're both dying to see! then on friday i'll attempt to make tacos and then we'll go to the green mill for jazz. i think it'll be a good one! hopefully he does too :)

i got the book "happily grateful" for xmas and it's filled with quotes about being thankful. i'm going to try to include fitting ones in my posts. here's one of my favs:

"My happiness derives from knowing the people I love are happy."

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

delayed best of 2009 & resolutions

i know this is WAY delayed but i was focusing on my praha trip right after the new year. 2009 was a fantastic year for many reason! recap below:

* jan. trip to lake geneva with my crafty bff for a valentines day crafting extravaganza and relaxation. i wish we could go back this year!
* feb. trip to san francisco to visit a bff and the bf's sis and hubs. had a blast and i can't wait to go back in may!
* april trip to d.c. for work but i got to see a study abroad buddy. had a great time in the beautiful weather!
* july vaca in hunky dory with the bf's fam. had the best time as usual and i can't wait for this year!
* aug. trip to nashville! road tripped with the bf and fell in love with nashville!
* dec.-jan. trip to prague!

exciting news!
* my oldest friend having her beautiful baby and getting hitched last march
* another engagement for my good friend from high school
* news of two babies on the way! the bf's sis and my old boss. can't wait!

lucky girl:
* the bf and friends organizing the most outstanding 25th birthday a girl could dream of. quite the surprise!
* i got to play with penguins for vday last year. the fun behind the scenes days at the zoo never gets old.

misc. fun:
* skydiving!
* lots of cool shows: dr. dog, soul show, jam ses in nashville and phoenix
* 2 visits from the bff living in germany
* my world traveller bff coming home for an extended period of time for once!

i'm sure there are a zillion other wonderful things that took place in 2009 that i'm forgetting but those are my top happy memories for the year!

now for 2010 i had to make a couple of resolutions of course. i've decided on focusing on saving and paying off debt. so far so good! additionally i want to try more new restaurants, visit different areas of the city and do new fun activities. so far so good on that too! i have already tried some new restaurants - may st. cafe, a costa rican place in wicker park, lucky's for their huge sandwiches and i'm trying duchamp on friday. i've also been seeing different areas lately just driving around that i want to check out. hopefully i'll explore soon!

Monday, January 18, 2010

final praha thoughts.

it's been a few weeks since i returned but i still wanted to write about my overall feelings and thoughts about our trip to prague.

favs: loved being there in the winter, it's like a whole different city. snowcapped and covered in christmas lights and holiday decor. i loved all the nativities and christmas trees. it has a completely different feel this time of year. loved going with the bf and checking out things i never would have otherwise - the music museum turned out to be one of my favorite things we saw and i would have never gone there without him. can't believe i got to see my tour guide Z so much. that was a huge highlight. he means so much to me and has had such an impact on my life and understanding of my czech heritage.

food: we ate a lot differently then when i studied there. i was there when it was a zillion degrees so it was cool to go there in the winter and eat a bunch of goulash, holiday treats and lots and lots of cocoa.

fav sites/activities: my favorite sites were the love locks on the bridge, vysehrad with z, the miniature museum, the christmas market in old town square and the municipal house cafe.

random: there was a TON of snow writing on people's cars. literally every car would have a little message on the windshield. we thought it was pretty funny and really random. we never really got the hang of tipping there - we were either offending the waitresses or thrilling them but i don't think we ever got it just right.

tough pills to swallow: i always thought i'd want to live there for awhile but after this trip i realized i don't. i was too busy being in my big group of friends studying abroad to really really realize how freaking unfriendly most of the locals are. i just dont think i could ever get used to that. i also couldn't stand how many tourists were there. all of my favorite parts of the city were completely packed with tourists. i also feel like i've done prague to its fullest now and i probably will never go back. it wasn't as magical this time. it was amazing, but not as life changing this time. i've seen all the sites i want to see, i've seen it in 3 different seasons and brought the people i wanted to show it to. it's really hard to accept that i will probably never see Z again. if i ever went back, it would be to see him. it hurts to put that in writing but i know there is plenty more world for me to explore!

Monday, January 11, 2010

praha play by play part 2

me and z in front of the national museum

love locks

municipal house cafe

john lennon peace wall

jan. 2nd: we woke up early and moved to our next hotel which was in new town. the area was definitely not the prettiest but it was incredibly convenient. it was close to 2 different metro lines and a tram and within walking distance to a lot of sites. our room was a lot smaller, the tv was crappy and we only had internet access in the lobby. i know wah wah. it was still nice and i'm glad we got to experience both areas. we met z in wensceslas square and he took us to vysehrad which is just a couple of metro stops out of the city. vysehrad has a huge fortress system, a pretty church and a big cemetery that has some of the czech cultural greats buried there. z told us the history of everything ofcourse including these 3 random columns in the park. he told us a legend that the devil brought them from rome. :) he walked us through the cemetery and showed us all the important graves. he's simply the best. after our field trip he recommended that rob and i check out a nativity exhibit at st. bethlehems. don't have to ask me twice! i had already been loving all the nativities around the city. it's so different than at home. we went and got to see a new part of the city and see a zillion nativities. i loved it. i have seriously have never seen anything like it before. it's one of my main highlights of the trip. later on that night we went to radost fx cafe for which is attached to a crazy club that i spent my last night studying abroad at. the cafe had a great menu and we actually got a real salad - rare in praha! and rob got spicy spaghetti and i got penne marinara. it was a nice change of pace.

jan. 3rd: this was a big museum day! we woke up and enjoyed our first complimentary breakfast. it was pretty good. sausage, eggs, cereal, breads with meat and cheese and a few pastries. then we made our way to the dvorak museum. dvorak is a famous czech composer. rob even played some of pieces before! it was really close to our hotel in a little villa. it had some of dvoraks personal items, historical information and even his piano. pretty cool! after that we went to the national museum in wenscelas square. rob was really enjoying the history of prague and the taxidermy we saw at the strahov library so i thought we should go to the national museum. rob had his photo pass from the dvorak museum that happened to be the same sticker needed at this museum. he was really happy about that. first we went into a funny cave exhibit then an earth exhibit that i liked. after that it was the taxidermy. rob's fav. i swear they have every species there. when i studied there we called it the dead zoo. it's ridiculous. monkeys, a tiger, elephant, giraffe, tons of fish, bugs, flying squirrels, bears and even an okapi. i mean it was out of control. rob loved it though. after the museum we went to old town to find bohemian bagel. i always wanted to try it when i studied there but never came across it. rob got a caprese sandwich and i got a parmesean oregano bagel with cream cheese. YUM! after that we went to shop int eh xmas market for a bit and grabbed some cinnamon sugar sticks to go. later on we saw a jazz show at u stare pani. i didnt enjoy it as much as the other group but it was still nice to see live music!

jan. 4th: this is one of my favorite days! we went to the john lennon peace wall first. i had always wanted to go when i studied abroad but never got around to it. i really liked it! it's got john lennon lyrics, portraits and peace signs all over the place. we noticed that people around the corner were snapping shots of something so we walked over and discovered the love locks on the bridge! how exciting! it was covered in little locks with couples names written on them to show their commitment for one another. i left our mark on the pillar because i didn't have a lock. this site made me SO happy! what a great surprise to come across. next we went to the czech museum of music which is in a beautiful old church or monastery..cant remember. it turned out to be free that day which is always nice to discover! they had a jazz exhibit on the first floor, a weird jazz lounge/experimental exhibit on the next floor and then a tonnnn of old instruments. rob loved seeing all of the instruments. i've never been to a museum like that before. i loved it! we did some shopping on the bridge and in mala strana, took a walk along the water one last time and then headed back to the hotel. later on we went to pivovarsky dum (the beer house) which turned out to be just down the street from our hotel. i went there a couple of times when i studied abroad and had a very very good time! but i had never eaten there. the place was insanely packed! must have gotten a lot more popular since i studied there. rob ordered roast and smoked pork with dumplings and i had roast pork with spaetzles. ive had better but it was ok. we also tried their famous flavored beer. i got banana and rob got sour cherry. also eh. i preferred their pale regular beer which i also got and rob ofcourse got their dark. we also got streudal :). it was a great day!

jan. 5th: sigh, our last day. i was getting pretty anxious as i always do at the end of trips but i was also quite sad that it was all coming to an end. we went to josefev to see all the jewish synagogues. first we went into the pinksa synagogue which now serves as a memorial and museum. it has over 77,000 names of those that dies from the CZ in concentration camps. its a really powerful exhibit. the upstairs has an art display from children that went through terezin. i'm glad that we were able to go there. we also walked through the jewish cemetery, the old ceremonial hall, maisel synagogue, klausova synagogue and my personal favorite the spanish synagogue. i'm glad i got to experience the jewish quarters with rob. after that we went to my favorite museum, the decorative arts museum. they had a glass exhibit that was really cool and then we checked out their ceramics, decorative clocks, jewelry, art prints, old photographs and wedding dresses they always have on exhibit. pretty cool! rob even liked it! We tried to kill time before meeting z again by going to the puppet museum that was listed in my book. unfortunately my book is years and years old and the museum has since closed! sad! then we tried to go to the smetana museum which is closed on tuesdays! what are the chances! so we just kind of hung out and then met z for one last goodbye. he told us the story of the astronomical clock while it went off at 5 p.m. and then he walked us to the municipal house. so sad to say goodbye but i'm so happy i got to see him so much. then we grabbed coffee and cocoa in the beautiful municipal house cafe! i had always wanted to go there but never had the chance. there is beautiful art deco decor and a pianist - you seriously feel like youre in the 20s. then later on we went back to pivovarsky dum for one last czech meal. i got wiener schniztel and potatoes and rob got this crazy dish - pork loin stuffed with blue cheese and ham and potato croquettes. both were great!

and that was it! it was a fantastic trip and i'm sad it's over. i'm going to write about my overall thoughts and memories in another post soon!

Sunday, January 10, 2010

praha play by play part 1

old town square christmas market
astronomical clock in old town square

enjoying the snow on the charles bridge

well i'm back! finally have a bit of time to catch up with my beloved blog. we had a great time in prague dec. 28-jan 6. i'm going to try to give a full report for the first half of the trip below. enjoy!

dec. 28th: we arrived around 2pm in prague after a long day of traveling. i was very proud of us - we figured out the cheapest way to get into the city. we bought a one day pass and took a bus, a train and a tram to get to our first hotel, the crowne plaza located near the castle. i'm so glad we selected this hotel because it was in the neighborhood that i stayed in so i was pretty familiar with it. it was so great to get back on the metro and tram and hear the interesting language and be around the locals. we got to the hotel and it was VERY nice! fuzzy robes, big tv, wifi!!, complimentary little water bottles and a nice shower. i was very happy we'd be spending most of our trip at this great hotel. we showered and then went to get food at a brewery i had found online that was right around the corner. rob got pork tenderloin and potato dumplings and i got wiener schnitzel and potatoes. we both tried their special beer, st. norberts. it was all really delicious! afterwards we went to my favorite pub, the black ox. everyone was incredibly UNFRIENDLY. it was ALL locals and they didn't like us. it was unfortunate because i love how authentic it is and i love how cheap the beer is! we got out of there quickly and hit the hay.

dec. 29th: we slept forever to ditch the jetlag and went to old town square for the christmas market and to meet my tour guide from study abroad, z. first we got sandwiches at paneria which is a chain sandwich shop that i ate at practically everyday. it's cheap and delicious! then we went into the square. it was so wonderful to be back there and to see how different it is during christmastime. it was BEAUTIFUL! lots of lights, trees, little booths with souvenirs and great food. we went into st. nicholas which was crowded but just as beautiful as i remember. then we stopped in at the tyn church which was closed unfortunately. then we got to meet z! he is absolutely wonderful. he gave us a tour of the jewish area. he was sick though and left us early. we set time to see each other again. then rob and i went to charles bridge and then returned to the square to get some sausages. the sausages were SO yummie. i love their mustard and their rolls especially. afterwards we went to a cafe to warm up and then we went to see a classical concert in a church. i had always wanted to do that and now was the perfect time to see one with my music buff boyfriend. the concert was nice but the church was FREEZING! then we went home and returned to the brewery for beers and goulash in bread bowls. perfect way to end the night!

dec. 30th: we woke up a bit earlier and went site seeing around our hotel. first we walked up a big hill to get to the petrin tower which is a mini model of the eifel tower. we climbed up to the top for the great panoramic of the city. it was also a good way to warm up because it was quite the hike! afterwards we went to the goofy mirror maze next door. it was super crowded with kids and we were crazy annoyed so we escaped quickly! then we went into the church in that area to scope out their nativity - the nativities were one of my favorite parts of going during xmas time. then we went down by the strahov monastery grounds and into the special library. unfortunately one of the libraries was closed for construction but the other was open which was very cool to see again. but rob's favorite part was the display they had of old stuffed animals. they had a ton and i didnt even notice the last time i was there. they had a bunch of bugs, fish, turtles and even a shark! rob LOVED it. after that we went to the miniature museum which was one of the most random things i saw the entire time i studied abroad which i loved. it is a display of art in miniature form. they have a portrait of jesus on a poppy seed, little cars on a strand of hair and my personal favorite - a grasshopper playing the violin. the guy working was a huge grouch but it didnt ruin the fun for me. after checking out all the mini displays we went to lunch at a place close by that was too crowded to eat at the other day. i got fried cheese and potatoes and rob got more goulash. it was really good! then i showed him where i stayed when i studied abroad, visited the little grocery store i used to shop at for some treats and went to the loreta which is a famous church. i had never paid to walk through everything and it was really cool to see. later on we went back to the old town square christmas market for sausages and some cinnamon doughy treats. YUM! it was rainy this time though and that was really unpleasant. we walked around for awhile trying to find a jazz show and couldnt find anything we liked so we went to a bar i went to when i studied abroad. it was fun!

dec. 31st: so this wasn't a very good day so i won't say much. we woke up and went to see the changing of the guards at noon at the castle. i had never seen it before so i was excited to go. we got there and it was a MADHOUSE! so many tourists. we had a good view of the action though and it was very cool to see. the guards march in, there's music and colorguard type stuff so i loved it! all those tourists went into the castle and we just had to get out of there so we walked around to try to find somewhere to eat lunch and had absolutely no luck. we ended up at tourist trap that was overpriced and no good. i was really bummed out. then rob's knee started to act up which bummed me out more! we returned to the castle but were told we didn't have enough time to tour around before it closed. so we just went shopping, bought a few things and then we went to wenselas square to check out their xmas market. it was rainy and unimpressive so we just got sausages and returned home. we went to our brewery for drinks to get us started for the new year. after a few drinks we went back to the hotel for a bit then went out to a look out point at midnight to see fireworks. there were a ton of people there and the fireworks were amazing!!!!!!!!!!! ive never seen anything like it! it was so fun to be surrounded by fireworks and to see them above all the beautiful sites. i loved it!

jan.1st: we woke up and went for lunch at a nearby cafe. big success! rob got a caprese sandwich and a chocolate pastry and i got an apple pastry. delic! totally made up for the crap lunch we had the day before. then we went to the castle and bought our tickets to tour through the old palace, st. george's basillica and the golden lane. first we went through the old palace and it was really cool! i dont remember if i got to see that when i studied there. it was crazy how much was original and authentic. then we went to st. vitus which is just incredible. i love showing it to people to see their reactions. it has amazing high ceilings and beautiful stained glass. after that we went to st. george's which was small but cool to check out. lastly we went to the golden lane which is basically just shops but we found a place rob got to shoot a crossbow!!!! it was like $2 to have 3 shots. he did really well too! totally fun. later on we went to the brewery for one last dinner. rob got goulash of course and potato pancakes and i got goulash with dumplings. after that we went to a jazz club close by called u maleho glena. there was a quartet playing called points. they were so cool! i really loved it and so did rob. totally a great way to start 2010!

i'll write about jan 2-6 soon!