Even though I am back in Adelaide safe and sound, I still have a few recaps that I have to do. I would have finished all of them sooner since I have been back for over a week, but our internet has been out the whole time! For a blogger or anybody else who relies heavily on wire-ability, this is very inconvenient. Alastair is able to use his phone as a modem, but it can get expensive if we use too much data. Hence, less blogging!
Here is a photo-friendly recap of me out with some of my friends in Chicago. I was lucky to spend time with my girls, although it still wasn't enough time. I also didn't get to see everybody who I wanted to see! One of my Saturday nights home, though, I went to Kirkwood
(the same as the Indiana University bar) in the Lakeview area of the city.
Me, Nicole, Goda
Chandra and Irene
Kate, her boyfriend Dan, me, Irene, Dan's friend
Kate, me, Irene
Kisses for me!
I found someone's hair extensions of the floor in the bathroom. I guess there are worse things I could have found on the floor.
Kate, me, Nicole
Kate and Dan
I missed out on photo ops with some very important people, including my longtime friend Andi who let me stay at her apartment that night. Still, I had such a great time with my girls. Unfortunately, I don't have many girl friends in Adelaide. It's made me appreciate my friends that I have at home even more. They are the best!
Here are some more updates since I left America:
- I got my perfect seat on the flight home. It was an aisle seat in the middle rows, and the seats next to me were empty. I was also the last row before the bathrooms, so I could lean my seat all the way back without feeling guilty or having to bring it upright during meals
- I slept twelve hours during the flight
- When I woke up, I learned that all of the toilets on the plane broke except for one. We were almost diverted to Brisbane, but they managed to fix a few of them.
- The day before my flight, I requested an Oriental vegetarian meal. I told you all last time how I thought the meat was inedible, so I decided to go vego this time. There were so many vegetarian options to choose from, but I finally decided on Oriental. Grains and veggies sounded nice. I ended up getting a tofu and vegetable stir fry for dinner (I was so tired that I didn't eat it) and some strange hot cereal with spices that was sort of okay. All in all, I didn't feel sick at all from eating anything, so I think I will request special meals from now on. Sorry that I didn't take any photos. They would have been helpful!
- I arrived in Australia on the second day of a five-day weekend. There was Good Friday, then Saturday and Sunday, then Anzac Day was Monday and Tuesday was an extra day for Easter. In a normal year, Australia gets a holiday for Easter (Easter Monday), but it was on the same day as Anzac Day this year.
- My bag got lost going from Melbourne to Adelaide. Long story, but it had something do with the fact that some lady working for the domestic terminal at Qantas would not let me get in line to get a new tag on my bag so that somebody would know to put my bag on the plane to Adelaide. Luckily, my bag came to my apartment a few hours later.
- Despite sleeping on the plane for 12 hours (we took off at 11:30 pm Los Angeles time, so my body wanted to go to sleep anyway), I napped when I got home for four hours. I then couldn't stay awake past 8 pm, so I slept for another twelve hours. I have now been in Australia for a week, and this is the first time I have been able to stay awake past the 8:30-9:30 range. Please note that I love sleeping, so perhaps I've subconsciously been thinking of excuses to sleep for ridiculously long amounts of time.
- I am FINALLY driving a manual car! I practiced over the long weekend, and I now drive it to work. Alastair has a work car for an indefinite amount of time, so I drive his car. I have only stalled it once in the past week of driving it. I am a champion.
- I made new discoveries about my leg "injury". I injured my sartorius muscle; not my IT band. My mom took me to her personal trainer, who specializes in injuries, at her gym. She poked and prodded at my leg for a while. When she pressed down on my inner thigh area, it was excruciating. I never felt even half that amount of pain when I went to that physiotherapist in Adelaide. I learned that the irritation on the other side of my leg came from inflammation in my sartorius. My mom's trainer gave me stretches and exercises to strengthen it up, so hopefully it will finally get better!
- I came home from work yesterday and watched the Royal Wedding live from beginning to end. Australia had it good with the time difference.
More recaps to come over the next few days!
One of my favorite parts about being home is my unlimited access to dogs. Here are dog photos from my trip back home, in no particular order:
My darling Mickey (who hates it when I take photos of him)
During my second week at home, I attended a Found Chicago
fundraiser at an art studio in the Lakeview area. They brought dogs that needed to get adopted. I would have taken them all home if I could have.
Irene and I bonded with our furry friend Ginger.
My dog Cody
My dog Rigley
Cody fishing for something behind the cabinet
Taking little Mickey to the vet
The dogs that belong to the vets (my mom works there, so I get to meet all of the "vet dogs")
The "vet cat"
After Mickey got stitches removed from behind his ear
Mickey begging for scraps (see Oprah in the background?)
My darling Cody.
I realize that a lot of these pictures look overexposed. For one thing, I used my parent's camera a lot while I was home. The camera itself is fine, but I had to load all of my photos onto my blog before I came back to Australia. Therefore, I had to edit everything on my home computer. I think the screen on my home computer is darker than average, so I added too much light while I edited them.
In addition, our internet at our apartment in Adelaide has been out for a couple of weeks, and I can only blog by using Al's cell phone as a modem. Using too much data could be costly, so I can't re-edit the photos and load them back on.
I hope you enjoyed my doggie pictures, though! I have lots more, including ones of my golden retriever Buffy, but I will load them on when they fix our internet.
I had a post from last week titled "Other Restaurants".
Here is a continuation of my eating-out experiences.
My friend Irene and I ordered a tasting plate with hummus, feta cheese, Greek salad and pita bread to start
Then, I ordered the same dish that I get every time: the BBQ chopped chicken salad. It always tastes good, and I only ever need a half order. It has chopped lettuce, black beans, sweet corn, jicama, cilantro, basil, corn tortilla strips, Monterry jack cheese, herb ranch dressing, bbq chicken, diced tomatoes and green onions. I also added some avocado.
Sunset Foods in Highland Park
While I wouldn't call this grocery store a restaurant, I grabbed this to-go snack for lunch yesterday in between visiting my grandma and a doctor's appointment. It had fresh grapes, tuna salad, muenster and cheddar cheese cubes and crackers. It was all delicious, and I was able to eat it safely in the passenger seat of my mom's car.
The Portillo's Group has restaurants all over Chicago. It's one of the best places to try Chicago style hot dogs and Italian beef. It has very eclectic decor and usually plays music that reminds me of the 1940's.
Like California Pizza Kitchen, I always get the same thing. I get the chopped salad, which I'm sure is one of the most popular things to order there. It is full of goodies like bacon, pasta, Gorgonzola cheese and a whole mix of lettuce and cabbage. I let them sprinkle some parmesan cheese on top. The dressing is tasty but heavy, so I always get it on the side.
I love my American salads! Australia, you have to catch on.
After the whole getting ready process
, the Ladies in Green waited for the bride to come back downstairs to take the pictures. She was outside for a while taking photos with the groom, and she needed a hair touch-up. While waiting in the lobby, the flower girls were the key entertainment (we waited for a while).
After pictures, which included WALKING ACROSS Michigan Avenue in our gowns (I'm telling you, the photographer is a genius), we had very little time to kill before the ceremony. The wedding planner insisted that Jessie eat something, so she ordered her a turkey sandwich. She's usually a messy eater (I call her Messy Jessie), so we put napkins on her lap so that she wouldn't get food on her dress.
Before the big ceremony began, we witnessed another intimate ceremony in a separate room with the rabbi, the bride and groom and two witnesses (Jessie's brother Jeremy and David's grandfather). They signed the Ketubah
, which is a Jewish marriage contract. It felt very special to be able to witness this, because it was the first time that David and Jess became husband and wife.
The Grand Ballroom was beautiful.
In Jewish weddings, there is always a chuppah
. The bride and groom stand under it during the ceremony. It's a symbol for the home in the couple's future.
Since it was Shabbat
(sundown Friday to sundown Saturday), the ceremony had to be scheduled for after sundown. This meant that it couldn't start until 7 (and we only started 20 minutes late).
During the ceremony, the maid of honor Danielle, the best man Daniel (David's brother) and both sets of parents stood under the chuppah with them. The Ladies in Green (and the Men in Black) stood by the side.
After the ceremony, I met my parents for the cocktail hour in the room that we watched the Ketubah signing. By now, there was food everywhere. It was after 8 pm, and I was starving!
Around 9 pm, we went back into the Grand Ballroom. The room had transformed into a party room with tables galore and a huge dance floor in the middle.
The palate cleanser.
I picked the chicken dish.
Jessie and David met on a Birthright
trip in Israel, so Jessie surprised him with a camel on the cake.
First dance as a married couple. They took dancing lessons, and they were great!
We had so much fun on the dance floor.
The drinking and dancing continued until 1 am (my parents went home way before that), and then we headed up to the bridal suite for the after party. Unfortunately, many of us were so tired that we were not able to stay very long. I had been awake for almost 24 hours by that point. I think I went back to my friend (and fellow bridesmaid) Alex's apartment around 2/2:30. I also think that Jessie and David kicked everybody out around that time. I slept very soundly that night.
I woke up the next morning feeling tired but not completely defeated. I was so happy that I didn't consume nearly enough alcohol to get a hangover. I was also excited for brunch.
Alex and I took a cab back to the hotel and went up to the Tower Room. It had unbelievable views of the city, much like Jessie's bridal suite.
The Shamrock Shuffle
went past the hotel.
Brunch was fantastic. I filled my plate with fresh fruit, chicken sausage, scrambled eggs, roasted potatoes with peppers (capsicum in Australia) and a really good muffin. It's too bad I can't remember what it was. It had oats and raisins in it. I also had two glasses of fresh squeezed orange juice.
On the way out, I took my last photo with Jessie. She looked amazing; I looked like I had just rolled out of bed and thrown on a dress (which is exactly what I did). The lucky gal is now honeymooning in the South Pacific.
I got a ride back to the suburbs, and I proceeded to nap for about two hours. What a weekend!
GOOD MORNING Chicago, it's a beautiful day! The sun is shining- oh wait.
But sunshine or no sunshine, nothing could ruin this day.
No matter what the sky looks like, nothing could taint a view like this.
On our way up to the bridal suite for beautification, we brought bottles of champagne from our hotel room that some of the girls were nice enough to purchase.
When I arrived in the room, I had zero makeup on and sported an afro. Jessie told me at about 9:30 that morning that I need to wash and dry my hair before it got styled. When I dry my hair and don't use a straightener, it looks very funny. I didn't take any photos, but the photographers were kind enough to take a bunch of them.
For Jessie, the beautification process started at 9:30 am (for a 7 pm service). She actually had to be ready by about 1 for pictures, so she needed the time.
I got started on my makeup at 10:30. I have to find her business card that she gave to me, because she is outstanding. I'll give her a shout out. She's also friends with one of my bestie's moms.
My friend and fellow bridesmaid Alex got started on her hair at the same time as I started my makeup.
Jessie's makeup took a good hour. Her meema (grandma) came up to the suite to get her hair "fluffed up".
Bridal hair (plus a few extensions to thicken)
The photography team
Me and Alex, with our hair and makeup complete. I was obsessed with my makeup, considering the fact that I haven't gotten it done since I was about 16. Also, Jessie gave her bridesmaids velcro towels to get ready in. I will use it again and again! They are so practical.
The mother of the bride, Rene, was crying all day. Her eyes were swollen, so she held cucumbers from our lunch platter on them.
Jess looked absolutely stunning.
Jenny (the bride's brother's girlfriend) getting her hair done
One of the two flower girls, Emma, stood by her mommy while she got her makeup done.
She got her hair done in the suburbs, and they put gold tinsel in her hair. She was so excited to put on her dress.
Jessie's unbelievable gown
First look of the bride in her dress, coming down from her bedroom upstairs
This is one of my favorite photos from the weekend (below).
Bridesmaids! Sara, me, Kate
That concludes Part I! I'll finish with Part II tomorrow.
On Friday afternoon, I hitched a ride to the city with Jessie's cousin and maid of honor Danielle. We promptly checked into the Intercontinental
and got ready for the rehearsal.
I had a Hollywood slow motion reunion when I ran into Jessie's parents and then Jess in the lobby. I was so happy to see them.
We got ready for the evening, and then we met in the room where they were going to have the wedding the next day. We ran through the rehearsal very easily (with the help of the wedding planner), and then we walked to dinner at Joe's Stone Crab
*It's an American culture to hold a dinner after the rehearsal for the bride and groom's immediate families, wedding parties, close friends and out of town guests. I'm only saying this because Aussies give me a blank look when I talk about rehearsal dinners.*
For the dinner, we were in a party room in the back. Joe's must be a very popular place, because we had a lot of trouble getting to the back of the restaurant. There were so many people in there!
It was a pretty formal dinner. There were passed appetizers and drinks, and we were all assigned to tables. There was also a menu for the event, which I always love.
The salad was to die for. It was so tasty and simple. It was also lightly tossed in a vinaigrette, which is the only way I like my dressing.
After we gave our orders for our main course and dessert, most of the bridesmaids and groomsmen gave speeches. I wrote a long-ish speech for Jessie and David. It was about two minutes in total, but I wish I had made it shorter. People were talking the whole time, and I don't think a lot of people would have understood the jokes. It was hysterical for me and Jess and anybody who went to college with us, so I guess that was the important part. It's hard to get people to listen to speeches during events like this, anyway.
Creamed spinach and potatoes came out with our meals. I only had the potatoes, but they were superb.
I ordered the filet mignon, and I actually cleared my plate. That never happens with me and red meat. They went so well with the potatoes.
Dessert came out as the speeches came to a close (Jessie's brother made her cry, because his speech was so sweet). This peanut butter pie was one of the best desserts I have ever had in my life. It was a chocolate crust with a light and fluffy peanut butter filling and chocolate sauce on the side. Oh my goodness, it was good.
I'm glad that the camera could at least do me the courtesy of capturing the texture of the pie.
After dinner, a few of the girls went back to the bridal suite (or bridal HOUSE) in the hotel with Jessie. We hung out until she wanted to go to bed. I shared a separate room with some other girls in another tower of the hotel in a completely different elevator bank (it got annoying at times), but I slept very well. It was also good to have some bonding time with the bridesmaids I didn't know as well.
The wedding day recap is coming up next!
I missed the opportunity to blog about two restaurants from last week, and I don't want them to go without recognition.
On Wednesday night, I went to Olive Mountain
with my friends Betty, Molly and Irene. It's located in downtown Evanston on Davis Street. It has excellent Middle Eastern food.
We started with a plate of hummus for the table. We dipped warm pita bread into it.
I ordered the Mojaddara, which is brown lentils with rice and caramelized onions. It tasted good, but there weren't many lentils in it. The caramelized onions were great, though. I took half of the dish home and ate it for lunch the next day. The flavors really soaked in by then.
Olive Mountain is not close to where I live, but I'd go there a lot if I lived in Evanston. It had great food, and our server was hysterical.
We also walked over to Kafein
on Chicago Street, which is a very funky coffee shop. I went there all the time when I was in high school, because I was in the stage of teenagehood (a word I just made up) where we all had drivers licenses but didn't think that there was anything to do in our suburbs. At the time, driving to Kafein for some vanilla Butterfinger shakes was very rebellious since it was so close to the city.
I didn't order anything since I was stuffed, but I helped Molly finish her Big Ass Chocolate Chip Cookie that was fresh out of the microwave. Yum.
The next night, I got sushi (for the third time
in one week) with my brother and his girlfriend Emily. We went to Sushi Para
in Paletine, which is an all-you-can-eat sushi restaurant.
You pay $18, and you can order as much food as you want. This includes miso soup, dumplings, chicken sate, sashimi and all of the scrumptious sushi rolls that you want. You can fill out a sheet more than once, but the catch is that you have to eat everything on your plate. They are allowed to charge you for the pieces that you don't eat. Honestly, there have been times when I have not been able to eat my last roll, and I put it in a napkin in my purse.
I love their miso soup, so I always get a bowl there. There is plenty of seaweed and tofu in there.
I also always get green tea. A lot of people order it there, and the ladies refill the cups the whole duration of the meal.
This was my plate. I got a piece of tuna sushi, a spicy tuna roll, a Palatine roll and a crunch roll. I was lucky that Emily helped me out with some of my rolls (especially the Palatine roll since they are huge), because I was full after just a few bites. I really had to force my sushi down, but it all tasted so good. As usual, I had one piece left on my plate.
By the way, I can't remember what was in all of the rolls. The spicy tuna was just tuna with some mayo, the crunch was similar to the latter but had some tempura flakes inside and the Palatine roll had cucumber, avocado, tobiko (little caviar balls) eel and I think tuna or salmon.
I can never get enough of my sushi, can I?
When I studied abroad in Italy in 2007, my friends and I had a lot of nicknames for each other and our possessions. My travel bag was named "Fatty". My friend's winter jacket was named "Old Yeller". Since my laptop was so much heavier and bulkier than everybody else's, it got the nickname "Big Bertha".
Big Bertha has been a great companion of mine, since she traveled to many places in the world with me. I always take her back and forth with me to Australia. Unfortunately, Big Bertha is getting very old and isn't able to function very well. I never use her anymore in Adelaide; I always use Alastair's laptop. Since Bertha is very tired and slow and heavy, I made the tough decision to leave her on her shelf in Adelaide.
You must be curious why I'm going on about my old laptop. Well, since I don't have a laptop with me, I will most likely NOT be able to blog at all this weekend. I know that I have taken a break for several days at a time before, but this is a planned break. I would love to blog, but at least I know ahead of time that I won't be able to.
I have a manicure/pedicure in 40 minutes, then I'm going to pick up my dress and then I'm hitching a ride with the maid of honor (Jessie's cousin) to the city. I have a rehearsal at 5, a rehearsal dinner at 7 and then a whole day of getting beautified with the bride before the wedding. This is my first friend to get married, so this is HUGE. I promise to take tons of pictures. I will not disappoint!
I'll see you all when I get back from the big city!
As I told you all before, my first dinner
in the US was sushi.
Two nights later, I got sushi again.
I went to Coast Sushi Bar
in the Bucktown area. I picked up my friend Irene
on the way to the city. Once we hit the highway off of Lake Avenue, it was good ol' traffic all the way.
I always get so happy to see the skyline. To me, it is the most beautiful one in the world.
Once we got to Damen Avenue, I had to parallel park. I never learned to do it, so I suck at it. I can do it, but it takes me forever.
Coast is BYOB (Bring Your Own Bottle), but I only had a few sips of wine since I was driving. To start, I had a bowl of miso soup.
We ordered a few different rolls for the table and split them. I know there was a scallop roll, crunchy spicy tuna roll, a sunrise roll (with mango) and a white dragon (shrimp, avocado, cream cheese, eel sauce, crunchy topping). All of them were good.
We also ordered a chocolate cake and ice cream dish to share for dessert. With six girls, it had no chance of survival.
We also each chose a mochi ice cream ball to eat. Each order came with two balls (split into two pieces; so there was four pieces on a plate all together), so we all paired up and shared a plate. I ordered chocolate chip; Irene ordered passion fruit.
The girls! (Do you like my camera sock on the table?)
We asked our awesome server to take another photo, and he said something to make us laugh.
I'm going out for sushi AGAIN with my brother and his girlfriend tonight. Then I'm coming home and rehearsing my rehearsal dinner speech a bunch of times. I haven't said a speech in a long time, and I need to practice!
Happy (almost) Friday!
... but sometimes it's nice to be home. But what about the sunshine year-round and the awesome accents and being with my fiance? Well, that's all great, but sometimes it's nice to be home. Why?
It's nice to get food endorsed by my favorite American food blogger
sent to my door. Garlic Gold
nuggets? Why not?!?!
It's nice to have a home gym.
It's nice to use my mom's Trigger Point Technology
It's nice to have a dog stare at me while completing my workout.
Rigley's body has a cow pattern, doesn't it?
It's nice to live so close to a new and massive DSW (Discount Shoe Warehouse). I went there a couple of days ago to buy shoes for my friend's wedding on Saturday (and I picked up the dress, which is GORGEOUS).
It's nice to have such a wide range of vegetarian products. A Veggie Patch...
...with a Boca burger...
...and some sweet mini peppers from Sam's Club....
....make great toppings for a salad for lunch.
I loved the Veggie Patch, but I found the Boca Burger to be a bit plain. I used to eat them all the time when I first discovered meatless burgers, but I must have outgrown them.
I rekindled my love affair with Stacy's Simply Naked Pita Chips. Try one, and you will finish the bag.
It's nice to always have hummus in the fridge.
Actually, it's nice to have a LOT of things in the fridge.
My mom and I picked up some Greek yogurt that I have been dying to try for months, but Australia doesn't have it! Do you like the ones with the wallabies?
It's nice to share a house with some furry friends, even if they are not always very active.
A lot of the time, though, they entertain me. Whenever someone comes home, our golden/yellow lab mix Cody goes into his basket of toys for something to put in his mouth.
He found a bone this time!
They have very comfortable-looking beds, don't they?
It's nice to be able to drive my car. I drove it into the city and parallel parked (although I needed Irene to hold and turn the wheel for me since I don't really know how to do it).
It's nice to be able to spend time with my girls!
It's nice to have some of the comforts of home, to say the least! But sometimes you have to go away for a while to really appreciate it. But if there is something I do NOT miss, it's this cold, cold weather. Come on Chicago, warm up already and give me some sunshine!