Archive for December 2010

30 December 2010

Peace out 2010, hello 2011

By: Jessica B.
Tagged: Random

Tomorrow is New Year’s Eve and that means it’s time to take a moment to reflect on the last year before looking forward.

So before I go forward, I’m revisiting my 2010 resolutions and how I did in accomplishing them.

2010 resolutions:

  • Sign up for dance classes – Signed up through Groupon but never went. FAIL.
  • Run a 5k (and start the Couch to 5k program) - Yep, another FAIL
  • Be a better friend and daughter - I don’t know if I can answer this but I’ll give myself a….HALF PASS
  • Start a knitting project (other than a scarf) and FINISH it - Another FAIL. My previous knitting group disbanded and I’ve been lazy since
  • Make one new recipe a month - WIN! This year, I posted a total of 25 recipes. Weeee!
  • Be more active in blogging communities in addition to my blog - Um, HALF PASS. Honestly, I’ve been scaling back my presence on the blog and in other communities because I need to focus on my non-blog life.

So clearly these resolutions were a bust and then I realized, I need to keep it simple. So it keep it simple, I need to reflect on 2010 again to come up with 2011’s resolution.

2010 was all about change for me, some better than others. Relationships with friends and family changed, some for better and worse. For the first time ever, I felt like I had to really forge my own path without some of my closest people with me and it was scary as sh*t.

But it allowed me to try a lot of new things, mainly forcing myself to cook more and travel solo. The latter being my biggest achievement this year. In 2010, I visited Nola, Vegas, San Fran/Napa and Colorado, with only Vegas being the only trip I didn’t do fully or 50% solo. That is huge. And now, the biggest adventure is yet to come: Italy.

So in looking at all the places I visited, people I spent time with, things I read, ate and explored, I realized pretty easily my main goal for 2011:

Keep trying new things.

I did this in 2010 and I want to keep that trend going without putting specifics or limitations on me. I want to go where opportunities are and try the things I’ve been too scared to do. So whatever that is, watch out!

What are your 2011 resolutions?

28 December 2010

How to survive a Midwest winter

By: Jessica B.
Tagged: Chicago, Fashion

Whenever I hear someone say it’s their first Chicago or midwest winter, I smile. They usually have a confused and scared look on their face and it’s so adorable, I want to hug them.

Because (depending where they’re coming from) they should be afraid.

No sh*t.

The east coast may have 32 inches of snow but Midwest winters are nothing to f*ck around with. If you’re not ready, it will cut you down like a tree and the winds will slap your face like you’re a red-headed stepchild. WHAP!

So, to help my fellow non-Midwesteners or Chicagoans, I’ve made a list of how to survive winter:

  • Invest in a good coat. Yes, it’s expensive and you feel ridiculous (aka Stay Puft Marshmallow Man,) but when it’s zero degrees outside with a wind chill, you will be glad you have it
  • Get a good pair of boots (Uggs or otherwise). It snows in Chicago, sometimes a lot, and you will have to go to work no matter what because snow days don’t exist (sad but true). So get boots that will keep you warm
  • Don’t worry about looking cute. The phrase around here is, “it’s better to be warm than look cute.” Trust me, no one is judging
  • Embrace it. It’s okay to complain about the cold but go with it because a) it’s not getting better right away and b) everyone else is cold right along with you
  • Get outside! It’s easy to hibernate and never go outside but make yourself do it. The fresh air (while cold) still feels good
  • Find fun stuff to do in winter. Holiday time in Chicago is one of my favorites because there is great things going on. This will help you achieve the previous bullet of getting the h*ll out of the house

So those are my tips, what about you? How do you survive winter?

27 December 2010

Holiday recap: Food and holiday fur nephew

By: Jessica B.
Tagged: Food

Hello everyone, I hope you had a great holiday weekend!

While thinking about this post, I swore that I would not make it all about my fur nephew, who I got to spend 4.25 glorious days with at my bro and SIL’s house, but seriously, I cannot promise that because he is the cutest-thing-in-the-entire-world-and-oh-my-gosh-I-love-him-so-much-more-now.

I may or may not have teared up when I got his Christmas card (written in his voice through my SIL.) Yes, a card from a dog made me tear up because it was so cute. Here’s what it said,

“Aunt Jess, I’m so happy to have you staying with me for these days. I have love checks for cashing and cuddling and making out to do. Love, your fur nephew, Steve.” (apparently he’s a reader of this blog!)

And now it’s time for some holiday fur love!

Steve wearing his antler hat – so festive

Steve playing hide and seek – apparently he got tired of Auntie Jess taking so many pictures of him

I promise to stop talking about him after this but the CUTEST thing he did this weekend (which is tough to narrow down), was Saturday night before bed, when I happened to open the door and see him standing outside of it. Once it was open enough, he walked in, sat down and licked my face when I leaned in to give him a few scratches. After the kisses, he walked out and went back in to my bro’s room. He just came over to give me kisses. OMG I COULD NOT HANDLE THE CUTENESS.

I may have also teared up when I got home to my own puppy-less apartment because I missed him (and my bro and SIL). Ugh, my heart strings are being pulled!

While I was not gushing on my fur nephew, I was also stuffing my face with delicious holiday treats. Yes, I just blogged about losing 12 pounds and then stuffed my face. But I had good reason, one being that my SIL made cake balls (similar to Bakerella’s infamous cake pops).

We had a mix of chocolate and funfetti with melted dark/white chocolate. Seriously, they made for an amazing breakfast, lunch and dinner. And then an unamazing tummy ache. Back to the gym I go!

How was your holiday weekend?

Movie review: I have one more to post this week! 127 Hours with hottie James Franco.

21 December 2010

My favorite Chicago holiday activities

By: Jessica B.
Tagged: Chicago, CTA

Holy cow, we are getting really close to Christmas. And because the holiday spirit has been infused in me like crazy, I’m sharing some of my favorite Chicago holiday traditions.

Yes, Midwest and Chicago winters suck. They are cold, snowy and by January they are miserable. But during the holiday time, I really love the city. Even with the snow and cold, there are fun, free things to do.

Let’s check it out

Caroling at The Bean

The Bean is one of the most recognizable features in Chicago and this year, I learned that every Friday in December, there is caroling at The Bean for an hour (depending on the temps). I love caroling so I was all in. The night Liz and I went, it was a balmy 35 degrees and we sang with the Old Town School of Folk Music singers. It was so fun!

Zoo Lights

From November – January, the Lincoln Park Zoo decorates part of the property with a bazillion lights. The animals are out (pending temps) and you can listen to Christmas carols throughout the zoo. Yes, it’s a kid and stroller nightmare at times, but walking around and basking at holiday lights is pretty f*cking fun!

Christkindlmarkt

When I was in high school German class, going down to Chicago for the Christkindlmarkt in Chicago was my favorite yearly tradition. Where else can you get some authentic German food, spiced wine and holiday trinkets? I always go for the Bavarian soft prezel (salivate), toasted almonds and spiced wine. And let me tell you, the latter does warm you up! I’ve been to some real German markets overseas and this is pretty close.

Holiday Train

The CTA is a way of life for me. I take it daily and rely on it to get me around the city. It’s a love/hate relationship but the thing I love the most is the CTA Holiday Train. No sh*t, it’s magical. A friend told me about it years ago and then, one magic night, Liz and I saw it. No joke, it was like…there are no words. It’s best to be surprised by the train, but this year, I hunted it down and it was still one of my favorite things about the holiday season.

What about you? What are your city’s holiday traditions?

Movie Review: Today’s movie review is The King’s Speech, staring my celeb crush Colin Firth. Love him!

20 December 2010

Weighing more little victories

By: Jessica B.
Tagged: Food

This weekend I got some good news (finally) that made me say “holy sh*t” out loud and mean it in a geniuely shocked way.

According to the scale, I’ve lost 12 pounds.

Holy sh*t. I cannot believe it.

Okay, it’s more like 11-12 pounds according to the scale today but still. Damn.

As you may know, at the end of October, I decided to get back on track with my diet and logging calories and actually *try* at the gym. Goodbye beer, vodka and eating anytime I want with portion sizes as big as my head. I have a pretty lofty weight goal for February  and at first, I wasn’t seeing a ton of results, even with some other little victories along the way. And on a side note, calorie counting does STILL suck.

But then two weeks ago I went to the doctor and she weighed me and I saw that I was down six pounds. I wasn’t totally thrilled about it but was happy that I was slowly making it to my goal. But then clothes started fitting better (especially my holiday party dress) and after trying on another dress this weekend, I finally noticed a difference.

So I manned up, got back on the scale and stared at the final number for about two minutes. Twelve (okay 11-12) pounds gone. I’m sure it will fluctuate a little because women’s bodies and weights are never consistent, but I am really proud of myself.

And now that it has soaked in, I’m scared out of my mind about regressing and putting it back on. I’m about halfway to my full weight loss goal but as happy as I am, I cannot lose focus, especially with the holidays coming up.

I know this and say this, but for now I’m going to bask in this feeling because I know that all my hard work at the gym, cutting down calories, making Miller Lite my go-to buddy and chopping all those vegetables is actually making a difference.

WOOOOO!

New movie review: That’s right, there is another new one tonight, the very dark and intriguing Black Swan.