Nick and I were married on August 22, 2009! I'm now a Mrs.!
I'm hoping to get back into blogging - I miss it, and I miss the blog community. I'm hoping to have lots of cooking posts, posts about being a newlywed, career triumphs and woes, etc...basically like the old blog but hopefully better. :)
I can't seem to figure out how to change the email account on the blog - anybody know how to do this? I have a new email address since getting married and changing my name and I'd like to associate it with the blog. It's still a Google Account, which is why I'm having a problem - it won't let me associate another Google account. I'd like to get rid of my old one, as it is full of junk mail!
I will leave you with some wedding photos! It was an amazing day - everything (well, almost everything!) went very smoothly and the whole weekend was a total blast. Look for a post to follow about our Paris Honeymoon!
That's right, we have selected Paris as our honeymoon destination!!! I booked our accommodations this morning, and we will be booking our flights shortly. Thanks to a recommendation from a parent of one of my students, we found a fantastic apartment rental in the 7th arrondissment for a very reasonable price. Check out the website at www.parisperfect.com. We will be staying in the Cotes du Provence apartment for six nights. I think it will be a most romantic honeymoon. :)
We are indeed back from our wonderful trip to Mexico. In dealing with the usual vacation backlash: hundreds of emails to sort thru, laundry, cleaning, work, taxes...I haven't had time to post anything. I will definitely post some more pics and do a quick recap later today or tomorrow. Anything to procrastinate that wretched task of preparing my tax materials for the accountant...
As I have mentioned before on this here blog, I am an Elite member of yelp.com. Before joining Yelp (and before it even existed), I considered myself pretty knowledgeable about hidden Chicago food gems. Add Yelp into the mix, and I am suddenly confronted with a multitude of must-eat Chicago foods and restaurants. Several of these places present severe challenges in regards to location, wait times, weather...you get my drift. It can take up half your day. So far, there are a few places at which I have been trying to eat for months now, and with no success.
The first of these is Hot Doug's: The have a foie gras hot dog. And french fries cooked in duck fat. DUCK FAT, people. I need to eat those fries. But the duck fat fries do not come easy. Hot Doug's presents some unique challenges: 1. They only make the duck fat fries on Fridays and Saturdays. 2. The line for said fries (and hot dogs) stretches around the block on these days. I know from personal experience, as Nick and I did two drivebys this past Saturday at 1:00 pm and at 2:30 pm. Note that this place is not near where we live (in a Chicago sense--it's probably really only a few miles away) and not accessible by public transit. 3. The weather in Chicago right now, if you couldn't guess, is less than desirable for standing outside for over an hour. 4. The place was recently made more popular by being featured on Anthony Bourdain's show on the Travel Channel: No Reservations.
Looks like I'm going to have to wait until warmer weather when I can enjoy a carefree wait for my foie gras dog and duck fat fries.
The second restaurant that defies my ability to eat there is Kuma's Corner.
Kuma's is purely a Yelp find -- we would have had no idea about this place if it weren't for the nearly 700 reviews on yelp. We tried to go one Saturday night in October around 7:30 and were nearly laughed out the door: over 2 hour wait times and hipsters packed into every square centimeter of space in the bar area. We are going to have to plan our next visit to Kuma's like a war game: strike at just the right moment when they aren't expecting it so we can get those burgers and get out. I mean, look at this thing:
There are more. And I will continue to post them. Mark my words, before I am dragged move out of this city, I will eat at Hot Doug's and Kuma's!
How do you like my new look? I decided after 4+ years of blogging (the first edition of the Midwest Princess began in Jan 05), it was time to move on from the polka dots. I'm not too technology savvy, but blogger makes it so easy! So here she is, post-makeover.
So lately I've been spending a lot of quality time with this guy: Yes, that would be none other than the big man of Baroque music, J.S. Bach. I've been singing soprano I chorus in the B Minor Mass with MOB, and I have to say it's definitely the most difficult choral work I've ever sung. I'm already looking forward to the next time I get to sing it, because it's something that you can't really master the first time around. Last night was our first performance -- it was sold out and the crowd was on their feet as soon as the final note sounded. It's just that exciting, people. Tonight is our second and final concert, and I'm really looking forward to it. But I'm also looking forward to a nice break from choral singing after tonight!
In other news, yesterday marked 6 months until the wedding! I really cannot believe how fast the time is flying. I've just about got my florist nailed down, and we finished up registering for gifts last weekend. It seems every week I have a new wedding project to undertake. This week: invitations. On my way to the gym this morning I noticed that the paper store around the corner from our place had a lovely display of wedding invitations, so I'm planning to stop in this week and see what they have to offer.
So, life chugs along. I've had some good auditions lately (for gigs in town, hooray!) and have a promising offer for summer singing employment that I will find out more about soon. I'm beginning to be more content with my career and realizing that these things take time -- slow and steady wins the race, right?
Let me know how you like the new and improved Midwest Princess!
Nick had to be away in Minnesota at a dental class this weekend, but he still managed to put a smile on my face today. He left a package that said: OPEN SATURDAY that contained the card and chocolates; then at about 4:00 I got a buzz at the door -- flower delivery for me! Beautiful red roses! I am a lucky gal.
We will celebrate for real next week with dinner at the restaurant where we had our second date, Avec.
Tonight I'm out to dinner with my gay boyfriend, Mark, then drinks with a bunch of gals! Should be a fun evening.
Call it what you may, and yes, I know it isn't here to stay, but today is GLORIOUS. I went out to do some walking errands this morning and just sat on a park bench and sipped my coffee, tilting my head toward the sun. Then I came home and threw open all the windows and let that glorious fresh air waft into the apartment (then I had a sneezing fit, but whatev). God must have looked down today and said, "You know, these people are having a rough time of it right now. Let's give them a sunshine-y, happy day".
Because it seems the news gets bleaker and bleaker every day; I find out about more and more friends and loved ones losing jobs, and I start to feel really down. But today, it seems like everything is possible.
So thanks to this glorious (could I please use that word once more? Thank you.) day, I feel like a new person. Last week, I started to turn things around as far as being bored and isolated in my apartment all day long. I realized that I get sucked into the vortex of the internet way too often and for way too long. I have to work really hard to limit my time in front of the computer each day. I'm much happier out in the world, connecting with other human beings.
I'm also very happy in my kitchen! My recent culinary endeavors have included: homemade chicken stock and roasted potato leek soup (both courtesy of Ina's new book, Back to Basics) If you don't already own this book, I highly recommend getting it for your cookbook library. (The brownie pudding is also a little piece of heaven. I made it for a Super Bowl party).
Other excitement: We booked our trip to Mexico for March 9 - 14!!! Since we are no longer going to Greece, we decided a getaway was in order. In just one month, we will be relaxing on the sunny beaches of this island:
Now please excuse me, I have to go work out like a madwoman to get bikini ready!
All I can say is -- thank God there are only four more days of January. This month has seemed interminably long and bleak, and I haven't been helping matters by reading possibly the most depressing book I've encountered yet, Revolutionary Road. I'm sure you've seen the previews. It's a beautiful book, but it's absolutely heart-breaking, and now I'm not sure I will be able to stand the ensuing heart-break of seeing the movie. I even tried to lighten my spirits last week by going to see a matinee of Bride Wars by myself, but that movie was just about as depressing as RR, if not more so, because it was just...ridiculous. And sad. *SPOILER ALERT* At this point in my life, I don't like seeing movies about failed marriages or engagements that break off. I think I'm going to have to brain-wash myself with some movie musicals or something.
Anyways. I'm currently under-employed, which is better than unemployed, I suppose. But with the current temps hovering around zero or less, it means I have spent inordinate amounts of time in our apartment, by myself. The place has never looked better, and I've made a lot of progress on wedding tasks (save-the-dates came in yesterday and they are GORGEOUS!), but more than once I've started to feel a like a crazed caged animal. Nick bought us a Wii this past weekend, which helps a bit, but I feel like a loser playing video games during the day. I need some self-betterment projects...learning Greek, maybe?
What am I doing about the under-employedness (not a word, I know)? Well, I'm kind of in a holding pattern right now. During the last few weeks, I have decided (just about definitely) to go back to school for a Masters in Speech and Language Pathology. I submitted my application for the Fall for post-baccalaureate work at Northern Illinois University, and I'm planning to enroll for some basic courses (Bio, Physics, Stats) at one of the local community colleges for the summer. Math and Science -- never my strong subjects, but I'm a pretty smart gal, so I think I can handle it. I've come to a point where I've realized teaching (especially teaching middle and high schoolers) is not for me. At least not as a primary career. I like teaching when the student is very engaged and talented, but those are pretty few and far between. I can see myself teaching a select number of students out of my home someday, but I can't imagine doing it full time or for the rest of my career.
I don't intend to stop singing, either. My one qualm about going into SLP is that I'll be taking myself out of the singing world. But I won't, really. I still intend to sing for MOB (hopefully more solos!), and I intend to keep auditioning as well. Singing is what I love, and if somehow I could do that and only that for a living and feel satisfied, I would. But the truth is, there isn't enough singing work to keep me busy enough to be happy, and I don't want to travel 24-7. I need something more.
So yeah. That's what's in my head right now. Nothing much else exciting to report -- except that we are planning a little five day getaway to le Mexico in early March!!!! Plans to go to Greece changed, so we decided a beach vacay was in order. We're thinking Cozumel, but any suggestions would be lovely! We're trying to stay away from the spring-break heavy places as well.
So, I got a Crockpot for Christmas. And it's basically the best (kitchen) thing that ever happened to me. And Nick. You see, many evenings of the week I am in rehearsals from early evening until 9 or later, and Nick generally gets home at 5 (we joke that we work in shifts), which creates a problem when it comes to dinner. I've tried several times to prepare casserole type things that Nick could just pop in the oven when he gets home, but it's not very convenient and usually requires many post-it instructions.
Enter the Crockpot.
My mother used to make pot roast in the Crockpot, but that's about the only thing I remember eating out of the Crock. I got a Crockpot cookbook for Christmas, but I was kind of disappointed with it -- all the recipes called for canned soup and other Sanra-Lee-esque pre-packaged crap.
My future sister-in-law emailed me a link to this site, and it is currently changing my life. So far I've made (all photos courtesy of 365 blog): Crockpot Chicken Makhani (an amazing Indian dish with loads of flavor)
Both recipes literally required about 10 minutes of prep time. Chop a bit, put it all in the pot, DONE. You don't even have to stir anything, which kind of made me uneasy at first, but I have learned that slow cooking makes everything meld together beautifully. The fajitas have been our fave so far. Both recipes made enough for at least two nights of dinner for both of us, plus a couple of lunches for me. The Indian Chicken was good, but I felt like it was missing something -- probably the cardamom pods, which I left out because I couldn't find them at our Greek grocery and didn't feel like trekking to Devon Ave. (Chicago's little India). Both recipes I will for sure make again.
My next Crockpot creation: SOUPS!--in an attempt for both of us to lose a few lbs before the wedding.
The Crockpot is literally making our relationship happier. I don't feel guilty for not preparing dinner, and we have delicious meals waiting for us when either of us gets home, which relieves the stress of throwing something together. It's also pretty darn economical.
Definitely check out A Year of Crockpotting. Stephanie is really witty and a great writer. She was even featured on the Rachael Ray show! I guarantee that the Crockpot can change your life for the better, whatever your situation.
So, how is the love theme going, you ask? You're dying to know, right? Well, one week in, and things are pretty lovely. Here's a little update:
Career: Seriously looking into doing a Masters in Speech and Language Pathology. Shocking, I know! It's not such a huge career change as you think, and in fact, I've been considering it for quite some time. I haven't disclosed a lot on the blog about it, but I had some vocal health problems awhile back and worked with an awesome speech pathologist who is also a singer and voice teacher and works for my ENT. I became really inspired by her work, and thought that maybe I would someday be interested in doing something similar. Well, last week I did some serious looking into what it would require and contacted some professors, etc. It would be a lot of work, and I'm weighing the pros and cons, but I've been pretty unhappy with my life as a freelance musician and it may be time to move on. Not saying I'm going to give up singing entirely, I could never do that, but I may be finished chasing after the elusive young artist program dream.
Wedding plans: are coming along! We are meeting with the priest next week, my maid and matron of honor are ordering their dresses, which means I've chosen a color scheme for the wedding! Check out the dress here. The dress is the color that is pictured, Indigo, and the sash is Frappucino. So it's going to be a sort of "blue and brown" color scheme, which I love. I have also spent many hours finalizing the guest list and entering addresses and guest information. That was some heavy data entry, let me tell you. I told everyone - "I need a wedding intern to do all this busywork!" But who am I kidding, I have plenty of time for this crap, and I don't mind it that much. The guest list is currently at 88, which I think is rather perfect.
Nick was gone for an aesthetic dentistry class in Minneapolis from Thursday through Sunday this week, so I had some quality time to reconnect with myself and my friends. With several hours of rehearsal and church thrown in there. And, my cousin Megan was visiting from Denver! So it turned out to be an excellent weekend.
I've been spending the last few hours reconnecting with some old Ani DiFranco albums I never uploaded to iTunes, and therefore haven't listened to in ages. I've said it once and I'll say it again, the woman is the most brilliant lyricist. It's funny how many memories are contained in these albums. Just the first few bars of a song can take me back to sophomore year at DePauw, laying in my bunk at Alpha Phi, crying over the current devastation of the moment, and playing Ani over and over and over. Another song takes me back to my first year in Chicago, post-god-awful-break-up, angrily swearing off men and blasting Ani on the El on my way to a truly awful job. God, I'm glad those days are over. But remembering them makes me feel more like myself.
Aaaaand I've officially gotten weepy. Time to quit! Have a great week, y'all.
This morning, while on the elliptical, while watching The Today Show, I saw a segment about New Years resolutions. And while I eschew once-a-year resolutions (it seems every Monday I resolve to do something), I liked one particular thing they discussed that my friend Allison also mentioned she's doing this year: finding a theme word for the year. Allison's word is purity. I thought and I thought, about what word I should choose. And cheesy as it may sound, the word I chose is LOVE. I mean, it's only fitting that the year I get married should be about love, right? But it's not just about being in love with Nick, it's about embracing and being thankful for all the love in my life, and it's especially about loving myself (not that way, dirty minds), with which I constantly struggle. It may not come as a surprise to you if you know me well, but I am usually brutally and cruelly hard on myself. It can be a great asset, as I move forward in my career and constantly strive to better myself, but most times, it's a hurtful voice inside telling me that I'm a failure. I've done a lot of work, with my therapist and on my own, to silence that voice, but this year I'm going to focus on it even more. I'm not sure what that requires, but I have some good tools for figuring it out.
One of the first things I'm doing to love myself more is focusing on my career: figuring out what I really want to be doing with my life, getting rid of the toxic parts of my job and people that upset me on a regular basis, and finding a more meaningful path in this difficult world of singing and music. It might mean taking a different path entirely, but in the past few years I've learned a lot about my passions for different aspects of the profession, and I've also learned a lot about what I dislike. Music is never far from my thoughts, and right now I'm so lucky to get to sing Mozart's beautiful Vesperae Solennes de Confessore with MOB, which is such a cool piece. It should be an interesting year for my career!
I'd also like to be more loving to the world around me. In 2008, I tried to be more "green", but I know I fell very short. It's also difficult to be a member of a community when that community is somewhat transient (the city), myself included. Hopefully in the not so distant future, Nick and I will settle somewhere permanently, and I can work on being an active and loving member of a community. It may not happen in 2009, but I've started to think about it quite a bit.
And of course, I will be planning my wedding for the better part of 2009, a day focused entirely on love. I'm sure not all of the planning process will be particularly loving, but I am so excited for that day to come and to become Nick's wife. So 2009 will also be about nurturing my relationship, and working toward the day when we vow before God to spend our lives together. Exciting stuff.
So those are my thoughts today. I was feeling so depressed last night -- all the fun of the holidays and Nick's birthday are over -- but this morning things are looking up. I've got a lot of work to do in 2009 -- not just the work I get paid to do, but work on my heart. LOVE...it's going to be a good year.