Guess who has two thumbs and is done with her summer school classes???? (Pointing to myself)
Lame joke, I know. I am still thrilled to announce that I have three weeks to laze around and do pretty much whatever. I made it through what I like to call an 8-week life sciences boot camp. Finally, I am two prerequisites closer to getting my masters in nutrition.
I have more news to share, but I will save that for after my New Jersey recap.
A week ago Thursday, I went to New Jersey with my parents, my brother Ben, his girlfriend Emily and my maternal grandparents. We went to see my mom's brother, his wife and my three cousins Leia, Timon and Kailee. Leia had a baby named Molly last year, and we wanted to be there for her first birthday party! It was also my aunt's 60th birthday (and Emily's birthday as well).
Getting to New Jersey was kind of a pain. The weather was fine when we arrived at O'Hare Airport. As I sat there reading my biology book (preparing for finals), my mom pointed out that the sky turned a very dark shade of green. Usually, this means something very bad. In this case, it was very bad. By the time the thunder and lightning and very heavy rain passed over us, it was two hours past our take off time.
When we landed at Newark (with clear views of the NYC skyline!), it was 108 degrees Fahrenheit (42 degrees Celsius). Yikes! The airport train that we needed to take to pick up our rental car was down, so we took a stifling hot bus there and waited while they cleaned our mini van that was supposed to be ready hours ago. Then, I took the wrong turn off the highway towards New York City. It was partially my dad's fault, since he was the navigator. Then, we got stuck in rush hour traffic that we would have avoided if our plane left on time. Then, the hotel gave away the handicapped room that my grandpa needed (they redeemed themselves by taking $100 off of our bill). By the time everything was sorted and we went into our rooms and freshened up, we were 45 minutes late for dinner.
We met at Joe's Italian Deli
in Franklin Park, New Jersey. Our New Jersey relatives were kind enough to wait for us. They had some appetizers to hold them over, and then more hot ones came out when we arrived.
Our family lives close to Joe's, and they are regulars there. I can see why. Even with the air conditioning struggling to work with the temperatures being so high, I still could have stayed there all night and eaten their food. Everything was amazing!
We got a warm breaded eggplant plate with fresh buffalo mozzarella cheese, sliced tomatoes, grilled red peppers, basil and balsamic vinegar. Oohhhhhh my gosh, was it good!
We also passed around plates of mussels (best mussels I have had in a long time- probably since Sydney
), warm bread with olive oil and parmesan cheese, bruschetta, gnocchi alla vodka (obviously I was a happy girl) and pasta carbonara. Everything was made from scratch at the restaurant in true Italian style, and it paid off.
You would think that I would never be able to eat a full meal after all of those passed appetizers, but I followed the crowd and did it. I ordered the "zuppa", which was not even on the menu. My cousin Timon and his girlfriend Yana strongly suggested that I get it. It was a mixture of shrimp, grilled calamari, mussels and clams on top of spaghetti with a whole bunch of marinara sauce. It was a big-ass portion, but I probably could have eaten the whole thing if I tried.
We talked heavily about going into the city since it's only an hour away from where they live, but it didn't happen. I had my own adventure in our hotel. I actually loved our hotel arrangement. Every room was a suite with two bedrooms and two bathrooms. I decided to take a suite with my parents, because I figured that Ben and Emily would distract me from studying. Emily is insanely fun. I'm not saying that my parents are boring, but I just don't feel guilty when I have to lock myself in my room and tell them not to bother me. That's just how it goes.
Anyway, a big group of New Yorkers came to the hotel for the weekend to beat the heat and play at the pool. They were the kind of people who thought it was okay to let their kids run around at all hours of the night and they could all collectively be as loud as they wanted. They also decided to congregate in the room next to ours, and they were making all sorts of noise when we got home from dinner. My mom asked them how long they were going to be gathering, and they told us it would be at least until midnight. Since my mom was crabby and tired from our stressful day, she made us switch rooms. Seriously, though, I find it to be horrifying that some people have no regard for the fact that people need to sleep! Enough of that...
I curled up on my new bed and tried to watch "Kingdom of Thrones" on our free wifi. It wasn't working out so well, so I fell asleep.
I slept late the next day and did a hotel room workout (push-ups, lunges and other stuff you don't need to do with weights) and then read a little from my bio book. We then went to Leia, Ronny and Molly's house for Molly's first birthday party!
There was a Cookie Monster pinata!
There's the birthday girl sitting on her grandpa's lap!
Molly and mommy Leia.
We stayed for a long time, so we experienced all sorts of food. I ate tortilla chips with guacamole and salsa and buffalo wings.I also ate a veggie burger with a few types of pasta salad later on. My Aunt Donna makes fantastic pesto sauce, and she added that to her pasta salad. I'd love to get my hand on her recipe, but it's top-secret.
After dinner, the kids had their fun with the pinata.
They got lots of candy!
Little Miss Molly sat in the shade and ate her egg-free cake since she is allergic to eggs.
Timon and Yana had to leave early, because they went to China the next day! They are travelling around China, Hong Kong, Taiwan, Thailand and few other places around Asia for a month. Lucky people!
We went to my aunt and uncle's house for New York style pizza (the real stuff!) after the party. We also went back the next day for brunch with everybody before we had to catch our flight back to Chicago.
My aunt and uncle are watching Timon and Yana's Boxer Max while they are in China. I absolutely adored him. How cute is that punim? (If you know any Yiddish, then you know that means "face"!)
I also loved their permanent dog, Toby.
In true family fashion, we took group photos. In the front from the left: my grandpa, Leia, Molly.
Second row from the left: Kailee, me, my grandma, my mom, my aunt Donna, Donna's mom, my uncle Rob.
Back row from the left: my dad, Emily, my brother Ben, Ronnie, Timon
Toby came in for the final shots!
I made sure to spend some quality time with the pups before I left.
That was Toby looking out the window when my uncle left to take Timon to the airport! So sad and cute!
We were actually in the same airport terminal as Timon and Yana, so we ran into them outside. They are moving to San Francisco and going straight from China, so it was so sad to see Yana say goodbye to her mom and sister! They've been living away from home for a while, though. They were in Arkansas for a few years.
We then got the airport and endured another delay. Luckily, it was only about 45 minutes. I wanted something to hold me over before dinner, so I got Red Mango at the airport. I got raspberry cheesecake frozen yogurt with Fruity Pebbles and frozen raspberries on top. I wanted Cap'n Crunch on top, but they were all out!
Besides the delay, everything getting back into Chicago was a breeze. My grandpa has trouble walking, so we got to go into one of those moving carts to get us from the gate to the baggage claim area. It was so much fun! We whizzed past people through the terminal. I have no clue how our driver didn't hit anybody. He was very talented!
I do prefer walking, but this was something I couldn't pass up. It was like an amusement park ride.
Upon arrival, our loyal taxi driver Pavel picked us up. We almost always use him to get to and from the airport, so he treats us well. He bought us a family style stuffed veggie pizza. Amazing. We devoured it when we got home.
We really do love Pavel. His taxi (or should I call it a carriage?) is always stocked with cold drinks and Godiva chocolates. He sends us birthday and holiday cards every year. He is a smart and sincere business man! And since we've known him for so long, he always offers to pick us up coffee in the morning and pizza in afternoons. He really is fantastic.
If you need a taxi service and you live in the Chicago area, give Pavel
What About Australia?
Well, what else is going on? You may have figured this out already, but I am not going back to Australia for my classes. I worked so hard to make it happen, but I realized that it's just not a reality. The fees are outrageous for me as an international student, and I will struggle without a car to drive to the other side of town for a challenging class and also get to a part time job. In Chicago, I have my own car and can take classes for a quarter of the price. I also won't complete my prerequisites on time if I go to Oz. I guess that is the biggest issue! So, I am staying here.
What about Al? Good question! He's jumping on a plane to America this weekend. I'm meeting him in San Francisco on Saturday. We will enjoy a much-deserved vacation together, and we will also see our winery where we are having our wedding next year. We'll meet our wedding planner there, because we won't get to see her too many times before we get married. He'll spend another two weeks with me in Chicago until I start my next batch of classes. Then, he goes back to Oz. Crazy, right?
What About Your Half Marathon Training?
Guys, I have no idea what I will end up doing with this race. I skipped the New Jersey weekend because of the extreme heat, and I haven't done any running since then. Not only do I worry that I will not be prepared in two weeks, but I am concerned about my legs. The pain that I have in my right leg now goes into my left leg. I ran seven miles the weekend before New Jersey, and I could barely walk up and down stairs for a day. We'll just have to see. I'm going to try to run eight miles tomorrow. If I am in a lot of pain, I am probably going to make the decision to not run it. I have many more opportunities in my life to do a half marathon, and maybe this just isn't my time.
Plus, Alastair will be here when I am supposed to do it!
I think it's time to clean my room. It's messy. Let's just say that I still haven't unpacked from Australia! I have time to clean now that my boot camp is over!
Oh my gosh, where does the time go? I only have one week to go in school. Every time I check in here, I am so much closer to finishing. Actually, a lot has happened in the past week.
We had to say goodbye to our dog Buffy. She was 13 years old, and she had a tumor that was taking over her body. We only figured it out last week when her abdomen swelled significantly and she stopped eating.
The picture below was from about two weeks ago. Her groomer sent it to us.
It's crazy to think that we got Buffy when she was nine years old (her owners divorced and could no longer keep her). She meshed so well with our family. I forgot at times that we didn't have her when she was a puppy.
It's great that she's in a better place now, but it's still so sad. Why do dogs have to get cancer? Better yet, why do they live for such a short amount of time?
...And then there were three.
Now, I just have to wait for my mom to walk in the door in the next few weeks with a new dog. Just wait. I'm not saying a new dog will replace Buffy, but I think my mom just likes having four four-legged friends.
Well, well, well. What now? I don't have anything in particular to blog about today. I did take a lot of photos of food, though. Did you expect anything less?
Two weekends ago (remember when I blogged every day??), I went to Francesca's Tavola
in Arlington Heights with my parents. If you live in Chicago, then you may have been to one of the Francesca restaurants. I've been to the one on Taylor Street in Little Italy before, but I didn't even realize that they were the same chain of restaurants. The best part, however, is that it didn't feel like a chain at all. It was a wonderfully unique dining experience.
We started with a 2009 Serpaiolo, which was one of the best wines I've ever had. Until recently, you couldn't buy it anywhere in the US except at Francesca's.
My mom ordered an arugula pizza. The crust was crispy and thin, which is my favorite. For some reason, that was the only photo that I took of the food besides dessert.
For dessert, we all shared a bread pudding. It had chocolate banana gelato. Come on, I know that you wish you could stuff that in your mouth right now!
What do we have next, eh? How about more pictures of food? I stayed with my brother Jon last weekend, and my parents came down to the city on Sunday for dinner. We found the Taste of River North near our restaurant.
We didn't eat any of the food (they were packing up anyway), but we did enjoy the views of the Chicago River.
For dinner, we went to Blue 13
. It's a new-ish restaurant in the River North area that specializes in contemporary American dining.
We were (and still are) enduring a heat wave in Chicago, so I really wanted a cold refreshing drink. Our server suggested the Veev's Spa Cooler, which is Veev Acai Liquor, lime, mint and cucumber. It was the ideal drink for a sizzling day. I love almost anything with mint in it.
For food, we shared a whole bunch of stuff. We got zucchini blossoms, which was tempura goat cheese, tomato, risotto and basil. The red dipping sauce was divine.
My dad and I split a tomato salad with radishes and goat cheese (the part that looks like a spring roll). It's not on the website, so I can't remember exactly what was on it. It was one of the best salads I have ever had, though! It was so creative.
We also split a small gnocchi dish (of course). It was mixed with crab meat, jalapeno, cream and manchego. Not the best gnocchi ever, but still pretty darn good.
Jon got scallops with ravioli. I didn't try the ravioli, but the scallops were perfect. Even my dad agreed, and he has eaten a lot of scallops in his life.
My dad and I also split tuna rolls with mango, rice, pea shoots and wasabi.
We also split mussels. There was a few seconds where I thought I had to be taken out of the restaurant in a stretcher. I ate a lot. It was worth it, though.
I think the goat cheese salad was my favorite of the night. I also loved Jon's scallops. I highly recommend both of these restaurants!
I am going to New Jersey tomorrow to visit my cousins, so hopefully I will recap it sooner than later. Can you believe that I'm so close to finishing my summer classes? I sure can't.....
Normalcy has gone out the window this week. You know how if you live in a developed nation, you can usually sleep in a bed and have indoor plumbing if you are above the poverty line? For over 24 hours, I lost that privilege. Let me explain.
On Monday morning, I drove to my biology class just like I do on other Monday through Thursdays. Even though the sun was out and it very hot and humid, there was talk on the radio about a storm coming in. The traffic and weather people said that there were going to be strong winds, and we should take an umbrella if we were planning on going outside.
I brought an umbrella into class with me, and then I stopped thinking about the pending storm all together. Halfway through my lecture, I get a text message from my mom telling me that the power was out in our house. We lost power three weeks ago
, and it was not fun. I actually had a lot of trouble concentrating for the rest of class, because my mind was spinning around about what I would do if we didn't get our power before dark. I had a difficult bio test the next day, and I really needed to study hard.
As soon as I got back on the road, I saw that the streets were littered with debris. I had to take a detour to get to the highway, because there were fallen trees blocking the road. I had a chemistry midterm next, so I decided to go straight to my other school instead of going home because of the chaos. There were also a lot of dead stoplights. Yikes.
I arrived to an empty parking lot at my other school about 45 minutes later. I had a sneaking suspicion that this was good news for me. When I drove to the front of the building, there was a sign on the door telling us that our classes were cancelled due to a power outage. WooHOOOOO!!! I threw my fists up into the air in an act of joy, and then I drove home.
With the exception of going to Panera to study for an hour and a half, I spent the rest of the day and night in my house with no air conditioning in 90-degree (30 plus Celsius) weather with humidity. Since we have well water, we could not use our toilets (only 1-2 flushes per toilet) or water. I studied by candles and flashlight, and my room was so hot that I had to sleep in my basement. I made a bed out of two dog beds
, a few blankets and a pillow. I usually would be terrified of my basement in the pitch black , but I had Rigley
to protect me from the basement monsters.
Somehow, I slept soundly until I had to get up to go to class (which was before 6 am, since I had no idea how many stoplights were still out). I checked my email and found that my chemistry class was cancelled again. After doing another victory dance, I ran upstairs to my sweaty room and packed an overnight bag. Since my biology class was in the city, it made sense for me to stay at my brother Jon's apartment. He was thrilled, because that meant I could take care of Libby while he was at work!
I took my biology exam (one point shy of getting an A....really hoping for a curve!), drove to Jon's apartment, took Libby outside for a pee and then I walked to Andi's office in the magnificent weather to meet her for lunch. We spent about 40 minutes at Chipotle eating our burrito bowls and catching up. I then walked back to Jon's, slept on the couch for an hour, went to the gym in his building (weights only) and then spent the rest of the afternoon with Libby!
Jon's apartment building has dog walkers, and they fill out a "doggy diary" for Libby every day. The "diary" is like a dry-erase board, so the dog walkers can write a new report every day. As you see, the dog walker writes what time of the day they took her out, what the weather was like, people or dogs they interacted with, whether they pooped or peed, etc. Cute, right? Jon cancelled the dog walking appointment today since I was around.
Libby was so happy on her doggy bed.
I took Libby on a walk around the area.
Hellooooo tallest building in America!
Libby led me to the dog park across the street from the apartment. She loves it there.
She made a good friend. There was only one other dog there at the time, but the park was overrun with dogs by the time I left.
She was exhausted after about an hour. I also made a few human friends. It was a good time at the dog park.
I learned that the power is back in our house, and it looks like I have to go back to chemistry tomorrow. For some reason, I have to go to a different classroom. I guess there is no power in science wing, but there is in other parts. I'd like to have more days off, but I know that I'd pay for it later with all of the extra homework.
I now wonder if I remember anything for the midterm I have to take tomorrow. I really don't feel like studying.....
I think I'm just going to hang out with Jon and Libby.
Over the past few months, I've been hearing my friend Andi talk about her friend Pat. I have wanted to meet him for a while. Every time I went downtown, though, he'd always be out of town. I also never saw one single picture of him. I'm sure you can see why I thought he was imaginary. Andi also used to tell me crazy things when we were younger, like that her great-great-great-great-great-great grandparents were the king and queen of the United States. I'm not sure what's worse: that she told me that or that I believed her.
Then, last Sunday, something happened. I learned that Pat was real. I went to Andi's apartment in Lincoln Park to watch fireworks from her rooftop, and then we went to Moe's Cantina
in River North to meet this "Pat" character.
About five minutes after I met the Real Pat, this happened:
Do you notice anything unusual about the picture? Sure I am with my girls and we are holding beer, but do you notice anything else unusual? Perhaps the lack of free hands? Because every hand in the picture is holding a beer?
Pat is a Bud Light Monster. The monster is dormant during the week, but the Bud Light Monster takes over as soon as he walks into a bar and has a few drinks. Then, the Bud Light Monster will not rest until everybody he knows in a one-mile radius has their hands full of Bud Light. Even if you kindly tell Pat that you want a gin and tonic or a Blue Moon or even one Bud Light, he will get you two Bud Lights.
You know what I think? I think that Budweiser kidnapped him and brainwashed him in the same way that aliens abduct people in their sleep and then they forget about it the next morning.
Disclaimer: Before you see any more photos, please note that I am at least 21 years old and that most of the beers that I am holding are the same in each photo. In other words, I sipped my beer(s) rather than chugged them. I had to turn down the Bud Light Monster more than once since 1) I could only drink so much and 2) I only have two hands.
There were beers we could not finish.
We ended the night at Butch McGuire's
when Moe's Cantina closed.
I was very well-behaved, but that didn't stop my incredible hangover the next day. I just don't have the tolerance of a college girl anymore. I also think I won't drink anymore. That is, after all, the best way to avoid a hangover.
Thanks for all of the Bud Lights, Pat! I had a wonderful night!
It would also be irresponsible if I didn't show you what I had for dinner before going downtown that night. My dad made the best salmon I have ever had in my life. He wrapped it in foil and grilled it. If you live near a Costco, get your fish from there. That's where we get ours.
He made a warm polenta salad with mushrooms and parmesan cheese.
He also made a watermelon and asparagus salad. He wrapped these in the foil with the salmon while grilling it.
Shoot me an e-mail if you want any of these recipes. I told my dad that it was the best meal of his that I ever ate.
Time to go fry my brain....for real this time!
Three more weeks of classes to go! Holy shoot! I have so much catching up to do with the blogging, but soon enough I will be able to stop by and say hello much more regularly.
I started this post on Sunday...and today is Friday. Oye.
I've made a lot of good technological purchases in the past few months, including a new laptop and camera. I mentioned before that I got a Garmin Forerunner 110 for my birthday. I just used it last weekend for a 6-mile run in the woods near our house. I'll talk to you in more detail about it later, but I promise you that I will never want to run without it again. If you don't own one but like running and have any interest whatsoever about how fast you run outdoors, I highly recommend that you buy one!
Let's backtrack to last Saturday night, shall we? My food recaps are patchy, because I haven't been taking many pictures. You're not missing anything, because I don't eat exciting things during the week.
On Saturday night (two days before the Fourth of July), I accompanied my parents to Vittorio De Roma
in Palatine. The restaurant is in an ugly strip mall that is around other ugly strip malls, so I didn't expect much from it at first. However, my parents and I were blown away by the quality of the food and the service. Based on the photo of the menu below, by the way, what do you think I ordered? Hint: it's not very hard to figure out if you know my favorite food!
They had sangria on special. Sangria isn't Italian at all, but I ordered it anyway. It tasted good, but I wish that I had ordered wine for the all-Italian experience.
We started out with a basket of bread, and then we ordered two appetizers.
The first appetizer was grilled calamari.
The second appetizer was a grilled portobello mushroom with roasted red peppers and goat cheese. This was definitely my favorite of the two!
My main dish of choice was very predictable: I ordered the gnocchi marinara. For me, the potato dumplings were the perfect firm texture that I want when I eat this dish. I almost cleared my plate. It was so good.
Our server brought out a dessert tray when we finished our meal so that we could see what everything looked like. I decided that a giant red velvet cupcake was the best choice of the lot.
All in all, the dinner was a memorable experience. We enjoyed every minute of it. We said that we'll definitely go back there in the future.
Trader Joe's also get an honorable mention for making tasty and healthy frozen food. I picked this up a few weeks ago and made it last week when I wanted a quick and easy lunch. It has 250 calories and 5 grams of fat, AND it's not loaded with crazy dangerous chemicals.
It doesn't look super appetizing below, but also take into account that the microwave bent the plastic and I accidentally spilled a bunch out while trying to avoid my hungry dog
Buffy. It was very tasty. It was also under $3.00. I love Trader Joe's.
As for the Garmin and the half marathon training, I ran six miles last weekend in 80-degree heat (high 20's in Celsius and up) with humidity. I went to the running trail on the Des Plaines River by our house, and the majority of my run was shaded by the forest. I was great for my first three miles, and then I was convinced I was going to die. True story. My mom ran by my side the whole time, and you would not believe the profanities that were going from my mouth to her ears. I still finished. I ran six miles without stopping to walk in a little over an hour. Despite wanting to jump into the river (which I'm glad I didn't, because I had to look at Des Plaines River water under a microscope in biology a few weeks ago, and I saw what lives in it. My lab partner and I named the amoeba "Jefan" since my name is Jen and his name is Stefan. I considered keeping Jefan as a pet, and then I realized that I would have to purchase a microscope if I wanted to see it. We killed it instead by washing it out in the sink.), I was so pleased that I had my Garmin Forerunner. I knew exactly how fast I was running, and I knew the exact time I could stop and keel over on the grass. I'm sure that I will talk more about it in the future since this blog is called "The Little Jogger" and all.....
I hope all of you wonderful people have a great weekend. I will be home studying my little brain away, but I really want to pop by a few times and say hi.
Hey friends! If you live in America, isn't it nice to have such a long weekend? I get four days off,and I'm loving every second of it. I'm sure you don't need me to tell you that I would rather be relaxing at home or by a pool on Monday than at class, right?
My birthday was almost a week ago, so it's about time that I finish with the recaps. On the day after my bash with my friends
, I spent the afternoon in Jon's apartment with my laptop and Libby. Jon was at his first-rate pool a few floors above since the weather was perfect, and I was stuck inside. At least I had the pooch for company.
Jon didn't have that much food in his apartment since he just moved in, but he did give me a packet of Blue Diamond Bold Wasabi and Soy Sauce cashews. They were super-fab. They have the same idea as wasabi peas, but they're not quite as strong. I highly recommend them, but I warn that they are addicting!
I also found potato salad in his fridge. He told me to eat it, so I did.
I sadly gazed out the window while doing my homework. Can you see the red car in the parking lot? That's my car! It only cost me $12 to park there for two nights. For that area of Chicago, that's an unbelievably low price.
Once I finished my biology homework, I took Libby for a walk. She knows her way down the stairs.
Actually, I brought her down the wrong set of stairs. I thought I knew my way around the building, but I guess I just knew how to bring LIbby to a dead end. Can I just blame it on her?
We found the correct staircase on the second try, and we went out into the sunlight! Seriously, how can anybody say that Chicago isn't a beautiful city? I firmly believe (along with many others) that it has the most stunning skyline in the world.
Even Libby was impressed. She gazed off into the distance towards the river.
After the walk, I packed up my things and got ready for dinner in the suburbs. Jon and I drove out in our separate cars to meet my parents and brother Ben at Ron of Japan
in Northbrook. I haven't had teppanyaki
cooking for so many years, and I finally decided that I wanted it for my birthday dinner.
I didn't take photos of the interior of the restaurant, but it looks like a little Japanese village. There are bridges throughout with water running underneath, and it is intricately decorated. My mom really didn't want to go at all since she had the idea that the food would be bad, but she changed her mind when she walked inside.
We all ordered the same kind of meal that came with soup, grilled veggies, rice and a protein of our choice. I chose chicken and scallops.
I was expecting miso soup, but we got a chicken noodle soup instead. It tasted fine. I was naturally stressed about classes for the upcoming week, so the soup was great for my poor knotty tummy.
Then, our chef arrived. In my experience with teppanyaki dining, my chef is always very theatrical and talks a lot. This guy didn't talk to us at all, but he did a good job cooking our food. I guess that was the important part. I was still a little sad that he didn't do any tricks like throwing eggs up in the air and cracking them perfectly on his knife or setting things on fire.
We got our veggies while we waited for our rice.
All of us except for my mom upgraded to fried rice. They put ground beef in it. Yuuum. When we started eating our rice, Ben asked if the chef had any egg sauce. He pulled out a bowl that looked like a solid yellow lard-like custard and plopped some onto the grill. It looked gross, but I said that I would try it. I'm still not sure what is it, but it sure tasted great. It had to have been egg yolks and a crap load of butter and other yummy things that cause arteriosclerosis.
Good fried rice.
I then got my chicken and scallops. Everything went so well together.
After dinner, I had some food that was not authentic to Japan: my birthday cake! My parents surprised me with it. We only get our cakes from one place: Deerfields Bakery
. They will make a cake for you any way that you want it. Last year, they made a cake for me with a kangaroo on it.
We always get the same kind of cake: one layer of yellow cake, raspberry filling, one layer of chocolate cake, raspberry filling, another layer of yellow cake and then lots and lots of chocolate frosting with flowers on top. Nothing beats it. I will never have a better cake in my life. If you want to convince me otherwise, send me your name and address and I will come to your house and taste other cakes. I don't think you can change my mind, though!
I would marry this cake if I was not already engaged a human.
Sunday was great, and then Monday came around. This was the day of my actual birthday. It didn't feel like my real birthday, so I was extremely happy that I had such a great weekend before. I left the house at 6:45 in the morning and didn't get home until after 6 pm. Regardless, I made sure to buy myself a tasty lunch before my chemistry class. I got a Southwestern wrap from the school cafe. It wasn't very good, but at least I got some "HAPPY BIRTHDAY" calls while I was eating it.
It came with salsa and sour cream.
I also got bagel chips and hummus that were included as a side dish. They tasted much better than the wrap.
When I got home, my parents had a home-cooked dinner waiting for me! My mom made spinach cheese casserole
My dad made salmon on the grill.
It was the perfect birthday dinner. I also got a Garmin Forerunner 110,
which I am so excited about. I can't wait to take it for a whirl.
Another present included having hardly any homework for the night. I was a very happy girl. I actually had time to sit with my parents and have a glass of wine, which is very different from my normal nights.
That's all for the birthday recaps!
I have great news, guys! I am more than halfway done with my hellish summer school schedule. Apparently, chemistry is also going to get even easier. I can almost see the rainbow that comes after the storm. I am so, so happy. There is still a lot more hard work to do, but at least I know that I will survive. I don't think that I will ever have a schedule again that is this challenging. My classes will be more spread out in the fall, and they are all in one school!
Today, I was like this:
(minus the pornographic part)
I slept until 10:30 am, and then I napped for two more hours on the couch. I'm cutting myself some slack, because my weeks are so hard! I also caught up on the first two episodes of the fourth season of True Blood. Amazing. I have been so busy that I didn't even know that the new season started. A guy in my biology class told me!
I had another reason for sleeping late. I planned on going to bed around 9 pm last night, but that was before better plans popped up! I was hanging out in the tutoring department before my chemistry class yesterday (I now do my homework there so that I have help in case I have questions) and decided to lurk on Facebook for a few minutes. I saw that one of my besties Goda put up a status saying that she had an extra Maroon 5 ticket at Ravinia Festival
last night. I've always been a big Maroon 5 admirer, so I immediately sent her a text telling her that I wanted to go. It was good timing. I'm sure that somebody else would have snagged the ticket.
Ravinia is one of my favorite places to go in the summer. They have an open-aired concert theater that is surrounded by acres of lush green lawn. I used to go there when I much younger with my parents to listen to classical music. Since then, I've gone to see Rufus Wainwright and Ben Folds (and MAROON 5 last night!!). Most people get lawn seats (as opposed to sitting in the pavilion) and get there as early as four hours before to get a spot on the lawn. We always bring food, blankets and citronella candles. It's so much fun to go with a small group and lazily pass the time until it gets dark and the music begins.
Goda and her work friends took the train up from the city and got there around 5:30. Since my chemistry class ended at 5:20, I knew I was going to be very rushed and get there much later than everybody else. I came home, jumped in the shower and threw a blanket, a bottle of wine and tupperware filled with grapes and salmon ravioli from the night before. I then drove to the downtown area of Highland Park (a gorgeous northeastern Chicago suburb on Lake Michigan), parked in a free parking garage and got on a free bus to Ravinia. They make things so easy! Then Goda met me at the gate with my ticket.
There were so many people.
I ate my salmon ravioli and drank some wine that I got from Grumpy's 80th birthday party
in McLaren Vale! Of course, I shared it since I had to drive home in a couple of hours.
I didn't even need to bring the ravioli, because there was already a spread of food with people who were eager to share. It includedJimmy John's sandwiches
and chips and guacamole and peanut butter M&Ms.
There was a severe thunderstorm warning, and we could see dark clouds and lightning from where we were sitting. We were so scared that it was going to pour down on us, but the storm miraculously went around us. We only got a few drops of rain. Chicago city, however, got a crazy hail storm!
Maroon 5 eventually started singing, and we had a blast. We were standing up and dancing and singing the whole time. I knew every song.
Can't you see Adam Levine on the TV screen below? What? You can't see it? What is wrong with you?
I probably could have walked up to the pavilion and gotten some better shots, but I was having so much fun where I was. Who knows....maybe I'll see them in concert again! I sure hope so. They were great.
Here are photos from tonight's Friday Night Pizza for your entertainment.
Tons of mushroom and eggplant and cheese! I decided that I don't like eggplant anymore, but there wasn't very much on there anyway. The shitake mushrooms were super duper fantastico.
More recaps to come! I still have to talk about my birthday and other stuff. I'm supposed to wake up early with my parents tomorrow morning and run 6 miles, but I'm not sure if that's going to happen. I don't want to wake up early, but if I sleep too late, it will be too hot to run outside. That means that I have to run on the dreadmill. Seriously, how anybody can run more than a mile on that thing is a mystery to me. I'll figure something out. I am supposed to be training for a half marathon next month, right?
Also, my title was the opening of "She Will Be Loved" by Maroon 5.