If you have followed my blog from the beginning, then you know that I have some leg issues. About a year and a half ago, I started experiencing pain in my right thigh while running that is most likely attributed to my sartorius muscle. To get help for it, I saw a very nice physical therapist in Adelaide. The first thing that he told me to do was to get a brand new pair of running shoes. I went to a store in town that specialized in just that. A nice girl analyzed my feet while I was walking on the treadmill over there, and she concluded that I had flat feet. She sold me a new pair of shoes
, and I ran in them for a while. Somehow, my leg issue seemed to stick around like some unwelcome fly buzzing in my ear. No matter what I did to make it better, and no matter how much I swatted at the pain, it still hung around.
My "flat foot" shoes
My leg problem was something that I learned to deal with over the past year or so. I ran up to seven miles at a time last summer, although it was never painless. I now often forget that I have a problem, because I can carry on with my normal workouts without any issues. Regardless, I always fear in the back of my mind that I will never be able to run a long race. I tried training for a half marathon last year
, but I never ended up doing it. I was too afraid of what it would do to me.
Then, Road Runner Sports
opened a free-standing store in Wilmette, Illinois. My family and I get all of our running stuff from there, but we've never been to an actual store. We've always just ordered from them online. They have incredible merchandise, so we were thrilled that we could go and see their stuff without having to flip through a catalog. We learned that in addition to opening an awesome running store with experts in finding the right running shoe, they also make custom orthotics.
I wondered if these people could do a better job of analyzing my foot than my last experience, so I went over there. Although I walked away with a new pair of shoes and custom-made soles that molded perfectly to my feet, the most valuable (and pathetic) part was learning that I don't have flat feet. As a matter of fact, my mother and I have some of the highest arches they have ever seen. I stepped onto a pad with a computer chip in it that could analyze the shape of my foot and put in onto a monitor, and the extent to which my arches are high are almost laughable. I'm just thinking that that poor girl back in Adelaide was having an off day or maybe had just started working at the store. The shoes that she sold me were wrong in every way.
Below: does that give you a good idea of my high arches?
My custom sole!
My shoes look pretty snazzy too, don't they? They are the Brooks Ravenna
. We got a pretty sweet deal on them. We've been VIP members for as long as I could remember, and it always saves us a lot of money.
I've run a few times in my orthotics, and I love them. I tend to supinate when I run, which means that I walk like a duck and put a lot of stress of the outside of my foot. Apparently, people with high arches have this problem. The orthotics correct my stance by moving my toes inward and balancing out the weight. In other words, I don't run like a duck.
I'm not sure if I'm keeping the shoes, though. I've worn them a few times and they rub against my heels, which means that I could get some crazy blisters. I may try to go up a half size and see if that makes a difference. The good thing about Road Runner Sports is that you have up to 90 days to return the shoe, regardless of how many times you have worn them. I'm telling you, I never want to shop anywhere else!
Warning: If you don't like images that include phallic-shaped cookies and other things created in that shape exclusively for bachelorette parties, then I suggest that you skip this post!
My bachelorette bash was better than I could have imagined. First, it was different from my typical Saturday night. Second, my girls deserve an award for all of their hard work. The decorations were unbelievable, down to the posters with potentially humiliating material from my crazy years in college, the Disney balloons, the streamers, and the 9-hour playlist of almost pure musical theater. I was in Heaven.
Putting on my tiara
Andi went through all of my recent pictures from the blog and Facebook and printed off the majority of them. Do you see the picture that says, "Am I the only one who talks to their pets and pretend they answer back?"
We started the night at Andi's apartment in Lincoln Park. We thought about going out to dinner or renting a hotel suite originally, but I wanted them to do everything they could do to keep the costs down. As you probably know, everybody is putting out the big bucks to fly to San Francisco for the wedding. I don't want to keep tacking on money to their "Jenny" bill. My friends are a very fun group of people, so we all knew that we'd be able to plan something cost-effective and have a blast-tastic time.
For dinner, the girls ordered food from Lou Malnati's
. If you're not a Chicago native or have never been here, then put it on your list of things to do when you visit (because you must!). Even if you don't like Chicago-style deep dish pizza, it's one of the best pizza places in the city. You can pizza with thinner crust, too.
They ordered one gigantic salad that apparently wasn't supposed to come with cheese and bacon, but it did.
We had plenty of pizza. I made sure to have a few pieces to "line my belly" for the amount of drinking that was about to take place.
There were meatballs and baked ziti.
My amazing baker bridesmaid Jessie
made phallic cookies. They tasted so good! Kate also made vegan rice krispie treats that were shaped like Jessie's cookies. Everything was great.
Andi, me, Nicole, Julie
I made sure that my mom was there for some of the night. She had no intention of coming to the bar later in the night, but she was there until we all went out. My maid of honor Jess's mom Karen was also there (and spent the whole night out with us since she is a trooper!).
Mom, me, Karen, Jess
Katie, me, Chantal
Once we were all settled in and fed, Jess cranked up the volume for our sing-along. I originally wanted to go to a karaoke bar, but I eventually realized that we could have just as much fun (or more fun) singing at Andi's.
I took a break to open some presents, and I got right back into the singing.
me and Molly
The rest of the photos are from Karen's iPhone. Thank you, Karen!
Alex, me, Nicole, Jess
The Haranders/singers: Laura, Nicole, me, Jess, Stacey
Around 10:30, we piled into cabs and went to Public House
where our table and bottle service awaited us. I took my pink fluffy goblet, my pink bell, and my inflatable genitalia friend who I started calling "Drogobob".
Jessie, Kate, me, Jess, Alex (Thanks for the picture, Jess!)
Me, Alex, Betty, Stacey, Danya
We all had a wonderful time!
My bridesmaids also made a funny checklist for me that included "getting proposed to by a stranger". The stranger gave me a very good proposal, didn't he?
Irene's dad drove me back on Sunday morning, and I slept about four hours until I had to get up to receive my family for Mother's Day. My uncle was in town from New Jersey, and my brothers and Aunt Harriet came over too. I was surprisingly able to be normal and enjoy the company while eating food. I was very tired, though!
I also don't have any pictures up there with my bridesmaids Irene and Goda, but they were certainly there and just as awesome as everybody else.
It was Kate's boyfriend Dan's turn to make dinner last Thursday night, and he decided to make tacos. Since Kate is a vegan and enjoys proving to her friends that vegans can still eat scrumptious meals, she invited me and my friend Irene over for something I have never had before: vegan tacos.
Dan started by chopping and baking a plethora of peppers (including jalapenos) and corn.
He also made seasoned potatoes on the stove top.
Extra fillings for the tacos included homemade guacamole, salsa, and limes.
The fillings were held together on a whole wheat soft wrap. Dan melted cheese onto his wrap and I considered doing the same, but that would mean that I wasn't eating a vegan taco!
My dinner may not have included animal products, but it was y-u-m-m-y! The peppers gave it so much flavor that I didn't even miss the cheese. I've actually considered being a vegan before since I have an intolerance to dairy (but still eat large concentrations of cheese anyway), but I worry about having a difficult time eating out at restaurants. Plus, I really, really love cheese. I think I might be okay if I ate these tacos every day, though!
I can't wait to show you the pictures from my bachelorette party!
My furry friends haven't said hello in a while. They love getting attention, both in person and on the bloggity blog.
Below: Princess Libby on my (unmade) bed
Below: Libby on my parents' bed (where she is not allowed). See how her ears are back and how she is vigorously wagging her tail? She knows that she is BUSTED!
Below: Mickey sitting on the windowsill in the library
Below: Mickey is always adorable, but he looks so precious when he lies down with his front legs crossed.
Below: the Princess donning a gothic bandanna after getting groomed
Below (this is the last time that I will say "below"): Libby giving her daddy a very warm greeting after I brought her back to my brother's apartment. Sometimes, I forget that I am only her second favorite person in the world.
We can't forget about Cody, the incredibly kind and docile dog with a very soft and velvety head.
And now, I will introduce the newest member of our family: SAM!
Isn't he a beauty?
We picked him up two weeks ago from Orphans of the Storm
. He is a kick-ass four-year-old mixture of (we think) German shepherd, lab, and hound. He's perfectly housebroken, brilliant, and is obsessed with his new human owners and doggy brothers.
Guys, I can't stress enough how important it is to rescue your dogs and cats. There are so many of them in shelters who need homes and will either be euthanized or spend the rest of their life in a small cold cell if they are not adopted. By getting an animal from a shelter, you are saving a life. I know that there are plenty of wonderful breeders out there (I can't say the same thing about puppy mills- I have NOTHING good to say about them), but everybody wants to adopt puppies or kittens. Puppies almost always find homes. It's also so much cheaper to get an animal from a shelter or a rescue group vs. a breeder. We paid about $150 for Sam, and that included a visit to the vet, a microchip, neutering, and medication. Plus, since he's older and has already been in a home, he is housebroken and won't destroy our house. Please consider rescuing the next time that you get a pet. You will not regret it, and you will always feel good knowing that you are giving your pet a better life.
That's all I have to say about that. I hope all of you have a wonderful Thursday!
In addition to my wine and cheese party
, there are other happenings that require catching up. One of them is a brunch I attended a few weeks ago at Orange
in the River West neighborhood. It has a few locations throughout the city, but this one was the closest to where I was staying. I've heard about Orange a gazillion times, and I quickly learned why everybody was raving about it: it is fantastic.
Although Andi, Shelly (Andi's sister) and I had a to wait about 30 minutes for our table, we were still able to order juice from the bar and chatted the whole time with the very friendly staff. I expected the orange juice to be orange-tastic and amazing at a place called "Orange" (it was fresh-squeezed- the only way I will ever drink it), but I wanted to try something more creative. I ordered an orange-ginger-carrot juice. The ginger was very strong (never try this if you don't like ginger), but I felt better knowing that I was pumping my cells full of anti-oxidants. I still found Andi's juice to be a lot more appetizing: just orange and grapefruit.
One of my favorite things about the restaurant is that all of the water has a slice of cucumber in it. It's so simple and very refreshing. I prefer cucumbers in my water over lemons or limes.
Orange, carrot, and ginger juice
Orange has a stellar breakfast menu, but my body was craving something hearty and savory. I ordered a chicken caesar wrap and requested the dressing on the side. It came with fries, and they were perfect for dipping into the dressing. The fries were very flavorful, and you could also tell that they were not bathed in grease. Andi and Shelly loved them, too.
Andi ordered the Caprese benedict. The English muffins were topped with poached eggs, buffalo mozzarella, tomato, and their homemade pesto-hollandaise sauce (that does NOT contain pine nuts!). It came with some sort of a potato cake that was very tasty.
Shelly ordered the Chai Tea French toast. She apparently gets it every time that she goes there.
I tried everybody's food, and it was all great. The place was bright and cheerful, the service was friendly and efficient, and I didn't feel like a fat lard ass when I left there. Thanks to all of those factors and the fact that they put cucumber in their water, I can confidently say that this is one of my favorite brunch places. Thank you, Orange!
Here are some other fun photos from the past few weeks:
Below: Nicole, me, Julie, and Andi at Moe's Catina in River North. ( I am wearing a jacket that I bought from Abercrombie and Fitch when I was in high school, and I still wear it all the frickin' time. I am not ashamed of it.)
Below: Andi and Nicole at Durkin's in Chicago. I won a happy hour there and cashed it in.
To understand the final picture, you have to know that my fingers are very double-jointed and can do things that nobody should be able to do. For one thing, I can bend the distal phalanges on my fingers (the part furthest away from my hand) without bending the rest of my finger. On that same night, I met a girl at the bar who could do the exact same thing with her fingers. Observe:
Aren't we cool? We learn new things about people every day, don't we?
In case you have been genuinely concerned about me and my well-being, I assure you that I am alive and well! My days have been packed full to the brim with friends and food and Libby (on weekends), and studying and wedding planning for the other days of the week. I have been neglecting my little blog, however, and that makes me sad.
Let me make it up to you by telling you about my friend Goda and her wine and cheese party. She just returned from almost a year abroad in China and moved into a new apartment. She had a bunch of her friends over to eat one of my favorite creations in the entire world: cheese. There was more cheese than the eye could see.
She provided other nibbles such as chips and salsa and Lithuanian bread sticks (below, top right). They tasted like long, garlicky, buttery croutons that just melted in the mouth. I was going to town on them by the end of the party, and let me just say that I had top-notch garlic breath. Still, the star in my mind was the cheese. My favorite was the brie spread on the crostini.
We also had plenty of wine, since each person who came to the party brought at least one bottle. I brought a bottle of Chateau St Jean chardonnay, and that was empty in no time. We all had a great time sampling each others' wines.
I think that the most creative thing that Goda did was personalize all of the wine glasses so that they didn't get mixed around with other glasses. She had a bunch of different plastic flowers to tie around the stems. I thought that it was such a smart idea.
After a few hours, my friends grew antsy and wanted to hit the bars. After chewing a few sticks of gum and downing strawberries with cheesecake stuffing (they were amazing) in hopes of alleviating my garlic breath, we piled into cabs and went to The Tin Lizzie
in Lincoln Park. My friend Andi knows how much I suck at taking pictures when I'm out and about, so she walked around for most of the night with my camera. In most of the pictures that she took, I either looked very angry or I was happy and on my phone. There was no middle ground. It was a shame, because I had a fantastic night!
Angry: with Nicole
Andi, Sam, Goda. I betcha I'm off somewhere smiling and not on my phone.
Angry: turning my back to shots
Happy: On my phone
Angry: with Chantal and Jon
My friends are such a blast. Now, back in the present, I am enjoying myself in the comfort of my own home while I study for my finals that are on Tuesday. My bachelorette party is next weekend. When I think about it, I feel both excited and frightened. I am excited for all of the obvious reasons, but I am frightened for two reasons. First, my friends try to force feed me shots on normal weekends, so imagine what they will be like next weekend. Second, the Bud Lite Monster
(the name I occasionally use for Andi's boyfriend) will be in town then. He moved to Nashville, but he's still close enough to come back all the time. If he meets up with us at the end of the night, I have no hope whatsoever of feeling like a normal human being for the days that follow the party. No hope. Not even a chance. I really like feeling like a normal person....
Now, back to studying Anatomy and Organic Chemistry! Has anybody ever taken organic chemistry and enjoyed it? Just wondering. I am certainly not one of those people.