That One Blue Lego

Sometimes, my kids get bored. They pick fights over who gets to play with that one blue Lego. They play Minecraft and yell at each other for destroying the other’s buildings. And I feel my sanity slowly ebbing away… So I regroup. And usually this involves me speaking VERY LOUDLY; something to the effect of, “GET YOUR SHOES ON BECAUSE WE’RE GETTING OUT OF THIS HOUSE.”

It’s a big, big world out there and boredom really isn’t an option.
At least not around these parts.

I bet you’ve got a story too, come share it at the Storytelling workshop.
Visual Storytelling PhotographyVisual Storytelling Photography

Date Night Rebels| Boltwood Evanston

My mom offered to take the kiddos, I polled friends for suggestions & I read the Chicago Magazine‘s Hot List – we were officially ready for a DATE NIGHT. We even had grown-up attire; I wore white pants, throwing caution to the wind. Rebellious for the night.

After kissing our two bundles of energy good-bye, we buckled into the Jeep and enjoyed 40 solid minutes of adult conversation while on the highway. It was magical. We talked about work, the house, travel, hobbies… all sorts of things that little ears find completely uninteresting.

And then we arrived in Evanston and set about remembering how to use a parking meter and cross walks. Things easily forgotten in suburbs with yards. We sauntered into Boltwood, smiled at the hostess and gave her a mild heart attack when we announced “No, we do not have a reservation.” We are rebels, remember? Date Night Rebels.  She quickly recovered and whispered, more to herself than to us, “Well, it’s still early, we can do this” and ushered us to our table.

Being the woman that I am, I immediately asked where the restroom was. The hostess pointed me towards a hallway next to the bar and off I went. Yes, I’m human and I regularly need to use the restroom (especially after drinking a Smart Water in the car- am I smarter now?), but more importantly I am a woman and I must check out the bathroom decor and note the level of sophistication. And yes, I did love the cowhide rug as a table covering and yes, I did announce that on social media. Because everyone needs to get on this trend. I need a hide somewhere in my house, surely.

Upon returning to the table, my husband of 8 years ordered me cocktail, something citrusy & minty because he knows me well and understands my adoration of mojitos. He’s an IPA man himself, and well, I have had about 2 beers in my life so I don’t have much to say about that.

The delicious drinks arrived and we told our waiter the salmon roe toasts sounded appealing… but THEN we threw down the GAUNTLET. OK, maybe it wasn’t quite that dramatic, but I like to think of us as the Date Night Rebels, remember? We told him to ORDER FOR US. At my husband’s suggestion, we’ve started doing this on our foodie date nights and I must admit I love it. It makes the evening a bit of an adventure and always provides entertainment. Sometimes the waitstaff shrinks back with a petrified look on their face, other times a glimmer sparkles in their eye and you can see them already planning your courses. We are adventurous eaters and convey that message which helps ease the tension. It’s amazing how placing your trust in someone bonds you to them. The times we’ve done this, I’ve felt like we were good friends with our waiter by the end of the night. They always stop back frequently to see how we like their choices and share stories about why the food is personal to them. And they ALWAYS pick food that I wouldn’t have ordered but nearly embarrass myself eating because it’s so good (don’t mind if I lick the bowl, OK?).

Upon our throwing of the gauntlet, our waiter calmly picked it up, looked us over, gave a knowing smile and confidently said “I’ve got it.” That’s what I’m talking about people. We need more waiters like these. The menu at Boltwood changes frequently based on mostly locally sourced items, which enticed me in the first place. I love changing menus, it’s the whole adventure foodie thing for me. He brought us a roasted beet salad, an item not on the online menu I’d eyed prior to our little evening out. My impression of beets generally revolves around those gelatinous looking slices you see on a tupperware-themed salad bar. So yeah, I really did not eat them. Like ever. But these roasted little bundles of goodness made me want to start buying beets on a regular basis. So sweet and tender, but not mushy, and perfectly combined with some micro greens.

AND THEN he brought us spare ribs. And I love me some ribs but I never order them at a ‘nice’ restaurant. For two reasons: 1) Ribs are BBQ to me, so I order them at places where they provide paper towels as napkins and 2) Eating ribs generally requires picking up your food with your HANDS (& I was wearing WHITE PANTS, REMEMBER?!) As the food runner set them down on the table, I had my own heart palpitation and used my fork & knife to place one on my plate (note: the hubs and I share all the portions on these adventures). Thankfully, the waiter stepped right over to tell us about the dish & I nervously laughed “Is there a graceful way to eat these?” With a mischievous twinkle in his eye he replied, “You just gotta dig in.” And he smiled. And then he left me to eat with my hands and my white pants. And it was glorious. And messy. And I told him whoever was in charge of the ribs in the back was doing something right. And later on in the evening I saw TWO other ladies sitting in my line of sight eating ribs with their HANDS and I felt as though we had an unspoken club. Maybe we need t-shirts.

The rest of the meal was delicious and unexpected too- however, I’m not going to describe any more of it in detail because that would dampen your own dining adventure. I expect you to jump into the fray and try Boltwood and tell me about your own foodie exploration.

Cheers!

Visual Intermission: New York City

We took a little jaunt to New York City this past weekend, so I thought I’d share my highlight reel with you all. While we stayed in Times Square, it took all of 5 minutes for the novelty to wear off. It’s slightly comparable to our own commercialized Navy Pier, here in Chicago… if you’re a local you’ve been there once, and that once is enough. Thankfully, we had some fantastic guides and they gave us the view of NYC that we really wanted: Greenwich Village, So-Ho, Tribeca, Midtown East, the Financial District… I’d go back to any of them again and branch out to try Brooklyn & Harlem too next time.

Let me give you a little head-up on our grown-up travel plans: my husband is an athlete and I’m bit of foodie. So when it’s just the two (sans the munchkins) of us we like to exercise and eat. A LOT. So our vacation plans may not be typical, but they were perfect for us. Check out their websites after the photos, everything was fantastic.

 manhattangreenwichvillagetour

Exercise…

http://www.cityrunningtours.com/nyc.html we did a Sunday morning tour that started in Times Square and took us through places like Grand Central Station, by the UN & Rockefeller Center — a great overview of midtown Manhattan

http://www.ingnycmarathon.org we sat in the grandstands for a bit and watched the leaders finish their final .2 miles — and we met a few people from around the globe & even signed some guy’s poster; everybody was so nice

http://www.centralpark.com BEAUTIFUL. a photographer’s dream 🙂 unfortunately security with the marathon was so tight we were pretty much trapped in here for about 2 hours; but it was still gorgeous for walking and some really nice New Yorkers helped us find our way out

http://www.thehighline.org this park is built on an old elevated railroad and it was great for a stroll — lots of people watching and the sights over the city were gorgeous

 

Eating…

http://www.baramericain.com/new-york-city-restaurant/ we started off here with a little Bobby Flay action and the duck & rabbit did not disappoint, I kinda wanted to lick my plate

http://www.manhattanwalkingtour.com the highlight of our trip — a small group of people, a great guide, delicious food & an entertaining history lesson; if you go to NYC,  you must take one of these! (we did the Greenwich Village & Historic Downtown tours)

www.li-lacchocolates.com delicious old-school chocolates

http://www.chocolatebarnyc.com we had a chocolate egg cream, which is kinda like chocolate milk on crack 😉

http://bleekerstreetpizza.net I’m a bit of a pizza connoisseur and this was fantastic (Nonna Maria)

www.bantambagels.com delicious little bundles of goodness (Hot Pretzel, Grandma Jojo & Cookies & Milk!!!)

http://www.yelp.com/biz/faiccos-italian-specialties-new-york Faicco’s Pork Store — best Itialian sandwich I’ve ever eaten and my first time having rice balls which were amazing!

www.pasticceriarocco.com AH-MAZ-ING fresh cannolis

http://www.frauncestavern.com beer flights at the place George Washington celebrated his Revolutionary War win – kind of a big deal

http://agehasushi.com good sushi that won’t break the bank and the Rock Shrimp will rock your world

http://www.wichcraftnyc.com we are Top Chef fans so we HAD to try one of Tom Colicchio’s restaurants – the was the perfect lunch stop for us; I wish he would make me lunch every day

http://tribecataphouse.com fancy beer, but my favorite was the Donuts with Chocolate and Caramel and the coffee to go with them — it was like heaven in my mouth

http://www.piefacenyc.com a tasty little savory pie, perfect to start the day

http://www.anejonyc.com another Top Chef nod (one of our favs: Angelo Sosa) was the grand finale of our trip: best mexican food I’ve ever eaten, the Shrimp Tacos were out of this world — and our waiter was on point with fantastic recommendations (Mezcal Margarita, Guacamole Trio, some spicy corn dish, Shrimp & Short Rib Tacos, Lamb Tamale and of course Tres Leches Cake)

 

Misc…

http://www.sheratonnewyork.com we stayed here, it was fine if you want to be in Times Square/Theater District (which is also really close to the Garment District & Hell’s Kitchen)

http://www.newschool.edu/parsons/ & http://www.moodfabrics.com in the Garment District, close to our hotel/Times Square — I had to see these Project Runway icons for myself, sadly Tim & Heidi were busy with fabulous plans elsewhere