I had no idea Chicago was named after onions.

You learn something new every day. We’ve spent a few months researching fun things to do on our upcoming visit to Chi-town. When Bob said we were heading there to see Pearl Jam, I chuckled because many of our vacations revolve around band stalking. Also, I said last year that I probably wasn’t attending Blogher this summer, but the stars aligned and it looks like I’m going to be working it, which is more my speed.

I’m okay being “those” people that google “top 10 things to do in ____.”  I’ve said this plenty before, no shame. There are three vacation motivating factors for me- booze, food and water. I grew up on an island between Lake Ontario and Lake Erie. For people who aren’t familiar, I’m talking about “Buffalo wings, Canadian Beer and Niagara Falls.” We have particular (or peculiar) requirements when it comes to food, drinks and entertainment.

After some searching, I came across a few of the “top 10 best” of Chicago that caught my eye. Apparently the Peggy Notebaert Nature Museum has over 1,000 butterfly conservatory. What person with butterfly tattoos all over their back (ahem- hand raised) wouldn’t want to hang around with over 1,000 flying insects? I also want to check out the National Vietnam Veteran’s Museum - I’m curious if I’ll see anything related to my father, which is very possible and would be totally cool. I wasn’t even aware that this existed.

Lastly, I’m super excited for one of my favorite vacation things of all- BOATING. We’re taking a Seadog Lakefront Fireworks Cruise at Navy Pier. Growing up on Lake Erie, we could take our boat down the Niagara River to downtown Buffalo and watch fireworks after a Bisons game. When we took the kids to NYC last Christmas, they loved the boat tour of Manhattan. I’m pumped to do the city boat tour with a fireworks show over Chicago. This is an awesome hook up, I can’t wait. Below is info on their cruises, and can you say “PHOTO OPs?!” #instagramminglikeabawse

Seadog-Fireworks-cruise

Are you ready for an entertaining cruise experience along Chicago’s scenic lakefront? Come out to Navy Pier and let Seadog show you the city April-October, weather permitting. Seadog offers four exciting ways to see and experience Chicago from the water:
Lakefront Speedboat Tour  This 30-minute cruise along the shoreline offers a descriptive tour of Chicago’s famous skyline, while playing your favorite music. 
Extreme Thrill Ride  This cruise is perfect for the dare-devil in you! This 30-minute ride features splash down stops, 180-degree turns, slalom runs and more. 
River and Lake Architectural Tour  Enjoy historic views of Chicago’s famous landmarks and neighborhoods during this 75-minute cruise on both Lake Michigan and the Chicago River. 
Lakefront Fireworks Cruise  Enjoy front-row seats to the spectacular fireworks display aboard our Lakefront Fireworks Cruise! Cruise along Lake Michigan with an exciting speedboat ride paired with an informative tour of the Chicago skyline, then end the evening with a dazzling fireworks show and top-40 hits playing in the background! The open aired vessel allows for panoramic views, providing a perfect view. The Seadog Fireworks Cruise is available on Wednesdays and Saturdays, running from Memorial Day – Labor Day. 
Seadog is great for both individuals and groups. We offer customizable group events for up to 450 people. Seadog also features specific holiday cruises, such as Memorial Day, the 4th of July and Halloween. Not only can you enjoy a Seadog Cruise, but your dog can as well! Dogs ride for free, space permitting.
 For more information, please visit www.seadogcruises.com/chicago/ or call 888-636-7737.
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My most epic baking fail ever.

cakefailtooThis post is not easy to type, but needs to be written. I’m about to openly admit that I am a forgetful loser, but there’s a good chance I will still come through (albeit in a lame and embarrassing way.)

I forget a lot of things. I blame my medications for most of it, as living a life on a daily dose of prescribed seizure medications, xanax and wellbutrin do have side effects like “don’t give a shits” that land you on planet la la land. My short term memory is comparable to a gnat some days.

When I opened the store in 2010, I had no idea how hard it was going to be. We bake our cake every day. Over the course of the past three years, I’ve gotten particularly snobby about cake. I admit it. Sometimes, I order cake when I’m out to eat, just to laugh at how bad it is. Servers in the restaurants will notice I took one bite and ask “didn’t you like the cake?” Me: “I was just testing it out.” It’s not the servers fault, why make them feel weird that their employer serves over-priced, prepackaged shitty dessert items to people who just don’t know better. One of my biggest gripes? Big box stores and grocery chains that sell “custom” cakes for a quarter of the price we are able to charge. Well, obviously they can charge next to nothing, you’re eating a mouthful of cheap preservative filled vegetable shortening from a tub, globbed on top of chemical filled mass quantity produced frozen/boxed/shipped cake. And not only are they cheap, they’re fast, convenient, and will stay fresh for 3 years.

Have you ever been so buried and bogged down with life that you worry you might forget everything? I’m not talking about just paying the cellphone bill or a your yearly pap smear appointment. I have worried about forgetting things like my own child’s birthday party. Father’s Day. An anniversary. Of course I am capable of forgetting important nonfluctuating days pre-printed in a universal calendar like Valentine’s Day, so forget about remembering events that fluctuate like Leap Year. I even started a daily vitamin cocktail in the am and pm to help with memory- vitamin B, folic acid, fish oil, because dementia sucks.

Friday night in the midst of a marital tiff at the Tega Cay house, my phone rang. A little something like this:

me: “Hi Jules, what’s going on?”

Jul: “well, I was just wondering where you are?”

me: “I’m at the house, what’s up?”

Jul: “well, I was wondering if you’re coming?”

…..

me: “What? Where are you?”

Jul: “um….(awkward silence) I’m at Kenna’s (her daughter’s) birthday party…”

me: (dry-heave) “I’m, &^*$ omg, sorry… on the way.”

Not only were we over an hour late for the party, guess who was suppose to have the cake? This loser. The party was ending at 8, I had 50 minutes to get cake, get across town, and try to somewhat band aid one of the biggest screw ups EVER.

I had to do the unthinkable.

I had to go to the grocery store and buy a sheet cake. Do you KNOW how it felt to walk in a store and buy cake? The girls at work laughed at me when I told them, “why a sheet cake? An ice cream cake is forgivable!” I agree and I got one of those, too. But I couldn’t show up without something somewhat personalized. It was as if someone was stabbing me in the face–a bakery owner buying a grocery store cake. We don’t have a secret stash of cake out back or a cupcake bush to pick from at the last second, so I couldn’t even pop in my own cupcake shop to get something. LOSER. Any time you’re worried you fucked up at work or in general, remember Heather the baker going in to Harris Teeter to take a sheet cake to a birthday party for someone else’s child. Do you think I wasn’t recognized at the store? I was. A woman’s face I’m somewhat familiar with was throwing me shade while I checked out. I even tried to walk with the 2 cakes stacked in front of my face to detour any unwanted stares or eyerolls. Too late. Shamed. We made it to the party with the sheet cake and ice cream cake with about 6 minutes to spare.

Lessons learned- Make sure my calendar dates are not just saved in my cell, that they have multiple reminder alarms to alert me to how stupid I would be if I forgot x, y, or z. Also, while grocery store cake might be tasteless, cheap and easy, at least it is fast and convenient. It doesn’t matter that the food coloring makes your poop purple for 3 days.

cakefail

This is what you get when you say mean things and judge others, even if it’s just about cake.

Karma, bitches. stress

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8 weeks post demo.

I haven’t been slacking on updates because I’m totally sucking, but we are still at that place where pictures aren’t fun because the changes are subtle. “Oooooh, look at those beautiful cable cords!”

No. But there are some minor updates I can finally post. Never thought I’d be excited about the words “insulation” or “drywall”. Ooooh, insulation! Like cotton candy for the walls.

IMG_2084 IMG_2121

And the stone out front is done, finally coming together!

IMG_2080 IMG_2081

I’m looking forward to the day there’s no giant dumpster and a porta-toilet out front so I can take better pictures of the front! The house will painted soon, but the deck has been a nightmare and had to be ripped off and redone. I’m dying to move past this part, and start picking out the fun stuff.

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Tour de Austin, y’all!

IMG_2010I really enjoy Austin, I’ve been twice to visit my aunt, and we actually thought about moving here before we ended up in Charlotte.

I had been toying with the idea of going to BlogherFood for a few years, but couldn’t get it together. This year with the conference in Austin and the fact we have family there, it was almost perfect. The problem was the Blogher Food ticket price was INSANE. Sorry, but over $400 to attend a conference and listen to people talk about things I kinda know about, and I have a successfully run kitchen already? Nah. I spent $40 on tickets to see Mumford & Sons instead. YEE-haw! Wasn’t the timing so convenient? Marcus must have received our travel memo.

IMG_2031We stayed at my aunt’s where the kids were treated like royalty, giving us the ability to take the city by the beer glasses and GO. I deemed the trip “Tour de Austin,” as we hit as many bars and restaurants as possible. A few spots included The Bat Bar, The Ginger Man, Dizzy Rooster, Pete’s dueling pianos, and Maggie Mae’s. Thanks to the wafts of patchouli and weed up and down 6th street, I deemed Austin “The Asheville of Texas.”

Texas heat is definitely not like the Carolinas, it’s hot as hell but the air isn’t sticky and humid. For every alcoholic beverage consumed, it’s necessary to drink half gallon of water so you don’t pass out, vomit, or scream obscenities at strangers. All things that this crowd has done at some point. Actually, Tricia did have a bonding moment with a group of strangers on this trip, but that’s a story for her to tell.

We tried out Roaring Fork for dinner, it was nothing short of a bunch of foodgasms. We shared things like beef tenderloin fondue, green chili mac & cheese, and little cornbread muffins. I’m not a huge “meat” orderer, but the filet was unbelievable. Orderer may or may not be a real word, now that I typed it, but I don’t care because that filet was the best.

IMG_2023We made half an ounce of effort to do something “educational” and checked out the Texas State Capitol Building. And by checked out I mean we all dragged our feet and walked to the front gate, paused to see who was was going to volunteer “eh, let’s skip this because BORING…” I can’t be a bad example for Maeve (haha) who was with us so I had to pretend I wanted to see it. (zzzzz) At least we went inside, I even took an interior picture of the dome to prove it.

Sunday before the concert we headed out to Lake Travis. My last visit to Lake Travis was in 2000. The land was green, lush and the lake was covered in boats. I didn’t even recognize it. The lake is so low that there are giant islands of dry land above the dam.

IMG_2075Totally shocked. You can see it in this picture a bit:

Okay, I’ll fess up, we did pop in to The Oasis on Lake Travis for some queso, chips and cheap beer before lunch. Apparently it’s an Austin rite of passage (my second visit, I forgot about noseeums sneaking around chewing on my flesh). But we had lunch at Soleil next door. Food? Amazing, classy (yet they let the kids in) fancy, all with a view.

I had a beautiful cheese plate, but after 3 glasses of wine we ordered fish and chips because alcohol makes you want to eat bad things that are not swimsuit sporting approved.

I can drive like a Texan (lunatic), and this proved to be very handy as I toted everyone around in my super sexy minivan. (thanks for the major hook up, Enterprise!) And did I mention we were going to see Mumford again? Yeah, I’m starting to sound like a groupie, traveling around the country stalking a band, maybe I’m already there….

IMG_2065Austin built this new Formula 1 racetrack called Circuit of the Americas out in the middle of the EBF boonies, with a 30 minute drive outside of the city, with only cows, hay and a VFW nearby… but it’s also really awesome. The Austin360 Ampitheater is located in the middle of it. They had tons of food and booze trucks set up (Titos sponsored) with a tent, beer pong, and cornhole for entertainment while you waited for the show.

Which was amazing, obviously, except the ampitheater was like being slow cooked in a crockpot with 2,000 other bodies. Whatever, it was worth it. I even kept my mouth shut, not uttering any bully words at Mary Katherine Gallagher screaming in my ear for 2 hrs like she was being murdered. Thank you, mango tequila slushie.

The flight home seemed like it was going to suck, since American Airlines cancelled our flight. But somehow they rectified it, we made our connection and ended up home on time. So, I probably won’t be seeing Mumford again this year, and we didn’t get to meet the band this time, but just before we left for Texas OUR HOUSE SOLD! We close July 9th and then we are homeless. I’m currently googling tent options, or maybe I’ll get an RV and end up back in Texas in my aunt’s driveway, because she did extend the invite.

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9 weeks post demo.

houseshinglesNine weeks ago I almost vomited on the street when I saw the entire house knocked to the ground. Today I actually enjoy driving over there to see the progress.

It’s incredibly strange to see this “new” house transformed, because we didn’t intend on a full demo, people probably drive by and think it just IMG_0741got a face lift.

Or maybe not….

Crazy. I really love that we are staying with the “Tega Cay” look, minus the whole “Polynesian” thing. Unless I find some really great yard ornament to tie it all in. Like a tiki bar on the dock, maybe.

As excited as I get to take pictures of the interior transformation, it just looks like space and sticks. Walls won’t be put up for another few weeks, but here are a few pictures from this week:

housedoor  VS IMG_0752

 

houefoyer1 foyer housefoyer

A Groin vault was added at the door. The house was previously a box with 8 ft ceilings throughout the up and downstairs. Now, the new mudroom, kitchen, bathrooms, Shaye’s room and the dining (which will be coffered) are 9, the rest have vaulted ceilings.

housestairs foyer1

No more climbing a tunnel, the rod iron railing won’t box in the narrow stairs.

There are no walls on the first floor, no more rat maze–from family room to kitchen, from kitchen to family room.

house2stfloor house1stfloor

The lanai door (wait, is that polynesian??) and beadboard ceilings are so purrtee.

housebackdoor housebeadboard

 

houseshingles2 and the hardiplank/shake shingle, I love New England style homes, and this is going to be painted “Alpaca”. Because Alpaca sounds fancier than grayish white. Next week the stone goes up in the front, until then, I will leave you with the soothing view of this, while imagining my ever growing pile of bills. Enjoy.

ps- can someone PLEASE come buy my BAX house?? Or send me a statue of St. Joseph, that would be mighty nice, too….

housedock

(notice the water is blueish instead of poo-ish today….)

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