Helping Hands

heart-gloves-etsy> adorable gloves via this etsy shop

Every year, our mama gets us socks for Christmas. The really cozy, warm kind that we’d never buy ourselves. She says its because her worst fear is that someone is cold. And yes, she is the best.

I sometimes feel that I’m not doing enough for my neighbors in this cold and windy city. I attempted to do some research for the sake of this post to find the number of homeless Chicagoans, but it doesn’t seem that there’s anything conclusive. Honestly, though, whether the number is 5,000 or 20,000 doesn’t really matter.

I’m particularly sensitive to those living on the street when I find myself shivering and complaining in layers of sweaters, boots, mama socks and a parka.

But I’m hesitant to pull out my wallet after getting it stolen one extremely frustrating day a few years back after doing that, and equally hesitant to buy someone lunch or dinner after my burrito beneficiary informed me that he was sick of Mexican. (Seriously.)

So this year, I’ve figured out an inexpensive and easy way to help a neighbor here or there and I thought I’d share.

Duck into a Walgreens or CVS and pick up a pack of handwarmers and a pair of cotton gloves. They’re almost always near the front of the store, close to the registers, and for a few dollars, you can make someone fighting our beloved city’s bitter cold just a bit warmer and more comfortable for 10 hours.

And if you need a little extra motivation, you’ll help my mama rest easier :)

ll

Northern Lights Over Teepees in Yellowknife, Canada


northern-lights-teepees-yellowknife

I cannot even begin to make sense of the tragedy in Sandy Hook. But really, who will ever be able to do that? I can’t stop reading the news, looking at photos, trying to understand. These are heartbreaking days, and my thoughts and prayers are constantly with the families of the 28 that we lost in a senseless act of violence.

My blog-friend Sean wrote this great post with a reminder to reach out to those who might be silently suffering, who might need a little human connection. It just has to stop going this far.

My grandfather sent me these photos in an email this morning. When I saw them, I wondered how something like this could be of the same planet that we live on today.

This blog is typically about lighter things — food, fun, etc. so this is a bit random, I know, but I thought that the most productive thing I could contribute today would be something this astonishingly, radiantly beautiful.

northern-lights-teepees-yellowknife-3

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(I searched for a while to try to find the original source of the images from the email. I am fairly certain they’re from Aurora Village, the company that sets up these teepee viewings.)

ll 

Thankful Thursday

I promise we’re not turning this into a self help blog. But, when I saw this clip this morning on my beloved Good Morning America, I knew I really wanted to share it. I absolutely love everything about Robin Roberts – she’s hilarious, self-deprecating and totally gorgeous but above all, incredibly strong and incredibly inspirational. Her positive ‘tude through her many trials and tribulations never seems to waver.

I was particularly moved by her message that we should all “Change the way you think to change the way you feel.” If she can maintain that kind of perspective from the position she’s in right now, I’m sure going to make this day a great day and remind myself to do the same every day.

Happy Thursday :)

Chicago’s Food Truck Frenzy

 

> via

Chicago has an amazing food and restaurant scene – we are undoubtedly a world-class city in terms of our culinary offerings for residents and visitors. However, Chicago does make a habit of passing some baffling legislation in this area. Remember the foie gras ban? (Apparently California is going through this now. Sorry, guys!)

When I went to Austin last year to visit a good friend, I realized how much was missing from my life: food trucks! I ate breakfast tacos, kebabs, brisket tacos, cake pops, shrimp tacos… and then I went back for the genius culinary creation that is FRIED AVOCADO tacos. Chicago has long had standing ordinances making it pretty much impossible for food trucks to exist. In recent years, savvy entrepreneurs have gotten around some of this by preparing the food off-site and selling it from the trucks. Some seriously awesome eats have come from these wheels – Southern Mac & Cheese, Haute Sausage and Flirty Cupcakes are all staples in my book.

Wednesday, however, was a huge leap forward in terms of getting us up to par – though still pretty heavily regulated, Chicago passed an ordinance that allows food trucks to prepare on board. This means taco trucks are just around the corner, guys! Fried avocado tacos! You have no idea. I’ve been jipped all these years and I am hell bent on making up for it as soon as humanly possible.

Though they’ve won the battle, the food trucks have yet to win the war. Being able to cook on board is a huge coup, but there’s a few frustrating provisions that came along with this, most notably that a truck can’t be parked within 200 feet of an operating restaurant. There are provisions for dedicated truck stands in some key neighborhoods: Lakeview, Lincoln Park, Near North, Near West, West Town and the Loop.  But outside of that, if you’re hoping to get your paws on some late night grub, that’s going to mean walking a bit in areas heavily populated with restaurants. The restaurants argue that they’re paying taxes, so they shouldn’t have food trucks leeching off of their foot traffic. But duh, it’s a totally different experience. If I’m dressed up to go out to dinner on Hubbard Street and there’s a falafel truck hanging out outside, I’m not about to ditch my plans for a nice evening complete with an air conditioning, seating, service and bathrooms for a quick pita. It’s a totally different experience, and its disappointing that Chicago restaurants aren’t more supportive of the community as a whole.

Alderman John Arena helpfully threw out arguably the best metaphor of all time on this topic, stating, “The brick and mortar restaurant lobby got ahold of (the plan) and it was stuffed with protectionism and baked in the oven of paranoia.”

Stuffed and baked as the plan may be, I’m personally pretty excited for this step towards righteousness… bring on the tacos.

Friday

>via

There are all different kinds of blogs, and we intend this blog to provide a quick distraction from everyday life with pretty pictures, recipes, or stories. But it seems wrong to ignore what a heartbreaking day today is after so many people lost their lives trying to get their own little moment of escape.

Our thoughts and prayers are with the victims and their families in Colorado.

If you read one thing today, A Life to Bragg About reblogged a really touching entry by a military wife and mom describing her husband’s third deployment. Especially on days like today, its impossible to imagine sending your loved ones away to protect the lives we live and the country that allows it, but so many women and men do just that.

What a crazy world. Be safe,

WTFashion: Fall 2012 Top Trends

This weekend, I went maxi-skirt hunting with the best shopping good-luck charm ever – my mama! – and while I did eventually find the skirt, it was pretty disorienting to see fall clothing already on display. Since it’s about a thousand degrees outside and I have zero intentions of leaving this building, I thought I’d check out what’s coming in fall fashion on my lunch hour.

Now, let me just start by saying that I’m a total girl’s girl. I love to shop, get dressed up, and plan out new outfits.

That said, generally speaking, I am completely baffled by reported trends and pretty much anything that comes down a runway.

> Via Elle.com

Yeah, I know my Midwestern roots are totally showing with this post, but come on.  Is it just me or do these “looks” feel like you’re watching a movie poking fun at or parodying fashion? “Wax On”? Really? How does the “Shakespeare in Love” look lend itself to my closet?

>Via Vogue.com

How on earth does the average person see a rubber dress and interpret that into their own personal wardrobe? Fashion bloggers, my (gigantic, fuzzy, madhatter’s?) hat is off to you.

I would consider myself a creative person, but I’m really pushing it to translate the above with real-life possibilities for this fall. I’ll just be sitting here waiting for Pinterest and the fashion blogs of the world to show me how it’s done.

Running Revelation

via Pinterest, unable to identify original source

As I’ve mentioned, I’ve started to not hate running. One of my closest friends is one of those confusing people that just LOVE to run,  and two years ago she helped me train to run a 15K. For the record, it’s called the Hot Chocolate 15 and you literally run towards a chocolate fountain, so you can imagine that my level of motivation was particularly high. It was a cool experience, but I definitely finished that race thinking that I never had any desire to run again, chocolate fountain and marshmallows waiting for me or not.

I have recently ended up gym-membership-less as the gym closest to me upped its rates like CRAZY, and I refuse to pay out of principle. This means I’ve taken to the great outdoors every morning and most of my newfound non-hatred is due to the fact that Chicago has the best running path along the lake ever, and it’s pretty much impossible to be totally miserable with views like this one.

Picture via Me!

But don’t get me wrong, it’s still not awesome. So this morning, I about died when I realized that my headphones weren’t working. I always feel like I need really upbeat music to keep me both motivated and distracted from pain/misery/intense boredom/exploding lungs. Since I was already up and dressed, I figured I’d just go for it and feel extra superior all day for being one of those runners that just heads out the door with nothing but keys… and I totally surprised myself. It was basically the best run ever. Besides the birdies tweeting, I was totally alone with my thoughts which, frankly, was kind of terrifying at first. But then as I chugged along, I realized that that literally never happens.

Here’s what my typical day looks like:

  • 6:30 – wake up, turn on Good Morning America
  • 6:45 – head out for a run, listening to Spotify on my phone
  • 7:30 – back home to get ready, listening to/watching Good Morning America (I told you, I really love GMA!)
  • 8:15 – commute to work, listening to more Spotify on my phone and catching up on my Google Reader
  • 8:45 – 6ish – work; listening to music, listening to calls, staring at a computer screen
  • 6:00 – commute home or to after-work destination, listening to music and checking Facebook on my phone
  • 7-10 – hopefully out and about, but if not, home on the laptop working and playing while watching tv
  • 10:00 – read my Kindle before bed

YOU GUYS! I am listening to something or staring at some variation of a screen ALL DAY LONG.

The run FLEW by and I realized I kiiiiind of like my own company when not totally plugged in. I ended up planning my outfit for the day, remembering seven things I forgot to do at work yesterday, and picking out my future children’s names. I realize that I sound like I’m 100 and bashing the generations of today, but trust me – I love my music and all of my screens with all of my heart. However, I do think I’ll be running from here on out technology free – just a little bit of time in the morning to hear myself think before the day really gets going and I’m back to rocking out to not-dorky-at-all playlists, checking email and furiously untagging photos from the weekend before.