29 March, 2012

A Few Favorite Dinner Spots

Chicago has so many great restaurants....my list of places "to go" is always growing. 

These are just a few of my tried and true favorites:

Nine Muses, Greektown

Greektown is conveniently located just a few blocks from my university campus, so when I was an undergraduate student (and now, as a graduate student), Nine Muses (and Artopolis across the street) quickly became "my place" where the staff recognizes me, the bartender knows my drink, and where many afternoons and evenings have been spent languidly catching up over greek fries, tomato basil salads, gyros and St. Germain martinis (and don't get me started on the coffee and chocolate cake!). 


This Italian eatery gets very packed and very loud but, the noise overload is worth it for the warm atmosphere and the seriously mouth watering pizzas and Sangria pitchers. Unfortunately, it's always too dark to take a proper photo, but you'll have to take my word for it - if you're visiting Chicago, or hosting guests in Chicago, this is a great place to go. 

Devon Seafood

This seafood join off Michigan avenue has a great happy hour special - $1 Oysters! And they will make your mouth water. Their appetizers are delicious, as well - lobster ravioli is a favorite. I'm also a fan of their cool atmosphere and extravagant drinks. 

What are your favorite restaurants in your city?

28 March, 2012

Off to Washington D.C. !

Today, I'm off to Washington D.C. for the week for some sightseeing and, more importantly, to catch up with one of my closest friends and visit family. While I'm in D.C., I scheduled several posts that will give you a tour of some of my favorite spots in Chicago which should keep you entertained until I return with stories and photos from what I know will be an amazing few days. 

26 March, 2012

Scenes from the Weekend {At my Parents' House}

We spent the day at my parents' home on Sunday, and it was so nice to catch up with my sisters and parents. The weather was beautiful, so we grilled and went for long walks around the neighborhood. 

I remember living with my parents only seven months ago (before I moved in with my fiance), and feeling stifled and frustrated, but since I moved out, my relationship with them has improved so, so much and now a trip "back home" bring only happiness, warmth and comfort. 

I think at a certain age we naturally need our own space away from our parents, not only for the sake of everyone's sanity, but to grow our characters and to form our own family. Living with my fiance and becoming a "woman of the house", so to speak, has truly given me insight into the way my parents raised us, and what a difficult task that was. 

Not to mention, my mama and I now have a great time trading stories about "our husbands" and how to make the house run smoothly (like that quote from My Big Fat Greek Wedding...a man may be the head of the household, but a woman is the neck, and turns the head. wink). 

It also doesn't hurt that my mama has an incredible green thumb - plants love her and she can make anything grow. The living room windowsill is a feast for the eyes.

 {lemon tree}

All the above culminated to form a day that was very, very easy on the soul. 

12 March, 2012

Scenes from the Botanical Gardens

On Sunday, my love and I took advantage of the beautiful (over 60 degrees F !) weather to return to the place where he proposed eight months ago (how time flies!). It was a perfect afternoon - lunch al fresco for the first time this year, followed by hours of leisurely strolling through the beautiful grounds. I can't wait to return in a few weeks when the trees and flowers will be in full bloom. 

{Pulled pork sandwiches, al fresco} 

{Flowers in bloom}

 {A Japanese garden. The stone with string wrapped around it signifies "stop", and the entire garden is created to facilitate meditation and reflection. Quite beautiful.}

{The veranda where we got engaged} 

Happy Monday, and hope you had a lovely weekend!
 I'm looking forward to a week of warm temperatures.

08 March, 2012

Let's Talk About Kony (Not Just Another Video Post)

I'm sure every single one of you has by now seen the Kony video by Invisible Children that has gone viral in the past few days.

I'm going to take this opportunity to divert from the usual "fluffy" content of this blog to write my thoughts on this.

First, let me start by saying that I co-own a non-profit organization (called Aid the Nations ) which centers around building schools and developing educational, financial and social opportunities for the people of Uganda. We were inspired to start our non-profit after attending an Invisible Children event (and opening a Chicago branch afterward).

Since our inception three years ago, we've built a school in Kampala, and have developed the beginnings of an infrastructure which we hope will one day allow former child soldiers and their families (victims of the LRA) to live a prosperous and independent life.

Our biggest roadblock has been funding, a setback due largely to public ignorance. As Jessi so aptly wrote in her post, "if yesterday was the first time that you had ever heard about Kony and the LRA, then frankly, you've had your head in the sand. And you've had it there for almost 30 years".

I'm also currently pursuing my PhD, in the field of genocide studies. I never cease to be amazed by people's ignorance regarding events that transpire outside their immediate realm of understanding.

Of course, there are those who support the video and have also known about the issue for quite a while. But I can guarantee that percentage, when compared to those who are just learning about this issue, is extremely low.

The Kony video is a positive tool for spreading the word for those that may not have otherwise taken the time to educate themselves on Ugandan politics. But you shouldn't take the facts in it for granted (though they are true) - learn them for yourself.

In short, understanding an issue and making an impact doesn't end with simply circulating a video like everyone else. It may begin with a video, but then it must continue with education, with going after the facts and gaining a rounded awareness of an issue.

So, please, don't stop with just posting a video. Educate yourself. Don't let your interest wane. 

02 March, 2012

March, I've Been Waiting For You

You may have noticed that the month of February did not exist on this blog (did you miss me? wink) .

Here's why:

See those blue squares? Those were all deadlines, or meetings, or appointments. The white squares were regular days which meant class on the weekdays and wedding planning/entertaining out of town guests/errands on the weekends.

Not blogging for so long {and falling behind on all your blogs!} was beginning to give me major anxiety but, frankly, I just didn't have time! That's not to say that I didn't enjoy February - it was excruciating but, there was also Valentines Day, several wonderful date nights (including fondue!), a relaxing spa day, a trip to the lake house and many more little moments that brought a smile to my face.

And now, it's the 1st of March, which I consider to be the start of Spring (though Mother Nature isn't cooperating), my calendar is slightly less booked, and I've got so many wonderful things planned.

Stay tuned, I'll be back to my usual self on Monday, when posting will resume as usual and I'll have lots of exciting things to share with you!