The Blahs

September 25, 2013
Sorry for my hiatus. It's not for lack of things to share. We've tried dozens of new places. Work has been busy, but lack of time isn't really an issue, either. I've been uninspired. I've been bored. I've been distracted. I don't know how to articulate it other than I've been suffering the blahs. I often get in a funk as summer ends and days become shorter. It started a bit early this year, maybe because we had months of cloudy skies, humidity and record rainfall. Football is back, so Frank is working weekends. We've burned up vacation time so we'll stay put for the rest of the year. We might get to San Francisco in November. We'll see...

I'm working through my blahs. Seeking inspiration. Hopefully, soon, the stars will align and I'll get my ass in gear to find that happy medium. I'm better than I've been so that's something.

This final season of Breaking Bad has been my escape. With only one episode left it's all I can think about. Earlier this week, I was hung up on the timeline, but I think I've come to terms with it. I was thinking too literally with the snow in New Hampshire. I think the bleakness was to illustrate the decay of Heisenberg (we saw snow before when Walt got into the Meth business) and soon we'll see Mr. Lambert. He's pure evil, a dying man with no moral compass simply avenging the loss of his family (and life’s work). We will remember Walter White and Heisenberg when he's through. Seriously though, it is the most brilliant show on television. It's more addicting than meth (well, I can only assume) and I don't know that we'll ever see that kind of chemistry again. Just brilliant. A marathon leading up to the finale begins tonight on AMC. Start the binge watching now if you haven't seen it.

I've been planning a Breaking Bad viewing party since this season started back up. Only to learn that Cox has changed the time it airs. We now have to wait until 9 o'clock. Waiting those three extra hours is brutal. Not to mention inconvenient for hosting this party. Hopefully, we'll still have guests to attend this party. I have some fun ideas in the works.

Time Goes By

September 13, 2013
Over Labor Day Weekend, I flew back home to visit family and friends. I stayed with my sister, it's always nice to catch up and see how much my favorite boy has grown. He's really developed into a full blown boy. I knew snuggly time would end at some point and it is officially over. He has a heart of gold just like his mama and he's too smart for his own good, very opinionated and a bit of drama queen king. It's never a dull moment with that boy, that's for sure.

My cousin had her first baby back in May, Max was born a bit early, but he's doing great now. He was being baptized near their home in Milwaukee, so we drove up to share in the celebration. I also booked a hotel for the night so we could spend some extra time in Milwaukee. I knew I had driven through it a number of times, but couldn't recall every actually being there. My sister had heard about the Safe House downtown and wanted to check it out.

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The baptism was a nice opportunity to see family that I hadn't seen in a very long time. Ten years is along time... it was nice to be part of a family party. We've only gotten together twice since I moved, once in Vegas for my wedding and once back home when my grandpa passed away (we were only missing my brother). It was wonderful to see everyone for a happy occasion. I'm the oldest on both sides of the family. It's wild to see my cousins grown up and having families of their own, and my little cousins are in High School and Middle School. Just crazy, I tell you. I swear I haven't aged that much, but judging my them it's true. Ten years has gone by.

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Bike Fest was in Milwaukee the same weekend, so it made for an interesting visit. The city rumbled and every street was lined with bikes. It was a really neat experience. I imagine on a regular weekend it is a lot more laid back. We did get to Safe House. And we were able to complete our Missions. We stayed for beers and fried Cheese Curds. Burt Reynolds heart on was our favorite.

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I would've like to visit the Public Market or walk the Riverwalk but we had to get back. We stopped at Mars Cheese Castle on the way home. We had a nice brunch on the road, we filled up on cheese curds, sausage links and crackers. It was delicious!

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Back in Chicago, I got to visit with friends, dear friends from High School had their first, so I also got to meet their son. Before I know it, he'll be high school. It's best if I accept that now. I also got another opportunity to see family at my cousin's going away party. She's moved to Denver to be with her boyfriend. I'm incredibly excited for her to begin this adventure. It was bittersweet for my sister, they grew incredibly close after I moved away. And now, both of her favorite ladies have moved out west.

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I was also able to have lunch at Giordano's with a few cousins from my mom's side, again it's great catching up and I just can't believe how their kids have grown.

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Chicago was experiencing a heat wave when I first got into town, but after some thunderstorms temps cooled - THANKFULLY - and I finally had an opportunity to go downtown. I've been wanting to go, but every trip is insanely cold or hot. We weren't about to let the beautiful day pass us by, so I drove us downtown so I could finally see Millennium Park. It is beyond weird to have grown up in Chicago, but to have only seen "the Bean" on TV and in photos.

Traffic was incredibly light it was a nice ride and the city streets were pretty empty too. All the hustle and bustle had the day off. So, we could leisurely see the sights. Cloud Gate is pretty neat, people definitely flock to see it. My favorite perspective is underneath it and along the side with the curve where the reflection melts into the sky.

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After walking around Millennium Park, we strolled over to Buckingham Fountain. It was my favorite place downtown was I was young. As long as I can remember I've been fascinated by moving water and I have fond memories of running around with glow in the dark necklaces on warm summer nights.

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I'm happy I was finally able to get downtown. I was also thrilled to get my fill of real egg rolls. It's what I miss most these days.

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I could really go for one right now!

Gemini Bridges and Bull Canyon

September 12, 2013
There was one other area we visited in Moab, UT that I never got around to sharing. That is Gemini Bridges and Bull Canyon. It's a popular Mountain Bike trail, but UTVs and Jeeps are also welcome. Riding out you might miss it if you're not paying close attention. It doesn't look like much at first glance.

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But as you get closer, it's really spectacular. From the trail you simply see the flat tops, but as you near the two bridges that have formed the canyon becomes obvious. The flat tops sit about 250 feet above the canyon this vantage point allows fantastic views. Extreme adrenaline junkies make the jump between the two bridges. Check out You Tube for videos. It's positively insane. If you fall, you die. We stood over a crevice and that was enough thrills for us. I cannot imagine the Gemini jump.

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After peering down into the canyon, we had to experience it. We drove down to Bull Canyon despite the threatening storms in the area. Which could be potentially dangerous because of flash floods, but we felt confident they'd keep their distance. Fortunately, they did and we hiked deep into the canyon to spot the bridges up above. This perspective was less as impressive...

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As far as the bridges were concerned, but the canyon walls were monstrous. Frank stood in the crevice that raging waters created and at 6'3" he looks so tiny you almost miss him.

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This area was one of the more scenic places we rode in Moab. We really enjoyed it.

Las Cazuelas

September 11, 2013
We dined in for dinner at Las Cazuelas on Opening Day. It's next door to our beloved Windy City Beefs-N-Pizza at Silverado Ranch and Eastern. It's a quaint, but clean space serving up eats from their native Puebla, Mexico. The menu is pretty simple with a about dozen items to choose from. Don't expect to find burritos, nachos and dishes loaded with cheese and sour cream. Instead, you'll find tacos and tortas with a few fresh ingredients.

We were warmly welcomed; we took a minute to look over the menu and a few suggestions were offered. We ordered Torta De Pierna and Enchiladas de Mole Poblano. We were given free dessert and a fountain drink as a grand opening special. We took a seat and after a short wait, our dinner was delivered.

The Torta ($7) is tender pork in adobo sauce on a crusty roll with beans and topped with avocado. It was a great sandwich only made better with the spicy red sauce that was brought over when we mentioned we loved heat. It was smoky with a nice kick.

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Enchiladas de Mole Poblano ($7) is shredded chicken rolled in corn tortillas covered with Mole Poblano and onions. Mole can be wonderful when it's good and downright awful when it's bad. Fortunately, this version was well done and one of the better versions I've ever had. The chocolate and chili peppers are harmonious in the this sauce. I've found that is rarely the case so this was so refreshing. I found the chicken a bit bland on its own but with the milder darker red sauce it was a match made in heaven.



Dessert was chunks of jello and grapes in a milky sauce. It's slightly sweet. I like it best with the peanuts sprinkled over the top for a salty bite with crunch. We weren't sure what the purpose of the peanuts were, but when we asked it was explained that it is common for the people of Puebla to snack on them while they enjoy their meal. I've never heard of such a thing, but I love being educated on regional customs.

Portions are on the smaller side. No grande meals here so if you have a hearty appetite order a couple items.

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Living in Paradise

September 10, 2013
It's been nearly three months since we simplified by moving across town and downsizing from our house to our apartment. We settled in quickly and have no regrets leaving the house behind. We don't miss the yard work. There is no pool maintenance to contend with, no repairs to make. Our A/C went out, we made a phone call and went to the movies. Voila! It was all better and cooler than ever when we returned. The apartment is a breeze to clean. The house took a full day and left me with an aching back and feet.

The only part of the house I miss is the hot tub. We have two to use at the apartment complex, but they require clothing and long soaks are out of the question because they keep it HOT. The convenience and savings have been great. There was no $400+ electric bill this summer. $115 was the most we saw and that was during our heat wave. Speaking of convenience the new neighborhood is very convenient, we're so close to I-15 and 215, and shopping is minutes away. We have found that the eats are lacking, first, many places close by 8 or 9 o'clock. Late night dining is practically non-existent. Second, we've struck out dozens of times and have only discovered a few favorites. We miss being around the corner from Surang's Thai, Juan's Flaming Fajitas, Custom Built Pizza, DW Bistro and others. With more time, though, I'm sure we'll find more favorites in the southeast.

Most of all it feels like home. Our new space is considerably smaller, but it has everything we need. I finally got around to taking photos to share. Enjoy.

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Restaurant Week: Sage

September 9, 2013
Restaurant Week was cut short for us this time, because I was traveling to Chicago. We snuck in one more dinner beforehand at Sage. It is also one of our favorite restaurants so we knew it would not disappoint. Sage is great on many levels, but one thing that sets it apart from others is its beer menu. They always have a great selection and a few rare choices on draft. One day, I'm determined to come hungry enough to try the tasting menu with beer pairings.

On this day, though, Frank had a German beer, Schneider Weisse, and I had St. Feuillien Saison from Belgium. Both were delicious! Already off to great start, we welcomed the choice of bacon or baguette rolls. The baguette is my favorite. And we were brought an amuse bouche of lamb tartare. Yum! What a scrumptious little bite. While we intended to both choose items from the Restaurant Week menu, Frank opted to order off the menu so he could enjoy some favorites. My three courses for $50.13 included Chilled Sweet Corn Soup, Sea Scallops and Funnel Cake. Frank ordered Sweetbreads ($17) and the NY Strip Steak ($54).

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The soup was silky and smooth with chunks of delicate Dungeness crab. Huitlacoche was also part of this dish. It's not something I was familiar with, which is part of the fun at Sage. It always introduces me to something new. It's fungus that grows on corn, it's not common in the US, but in Mexico it is treated like a delicacy. Like we would consider truffles to be. Frank's sweetbreads were amazing, just like the first time we had them at Sage for my birthday dinner. I was fortunate that he shared. He must love me.



Frank's steak was beautifully prepared; a perfect medium-rare and it was piled high with mushrooms. Accompanied with a side of butter mashed potatoes. My scallops had a lovely sear and on the side was a lovely medley with sweetness from the grapes, smoky saltiness from the bacon and earthiness of the chanterelles.







We wrapped up this outstanding meal with funnel cake laced with strawberries and malted ice cream. It was a fantastic version of the carnival classic.



Service was once again exceptional. They do it right at Sage. I hope it stays put for a good long time.

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