Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Chicago OR the city in which I ate everything in sight

Last weekend I was able to spend 3 days in Chicago visiting my cousin Emily. I captured the visit through Instagram. My phone camera takes better pictures than my point and shoot and I am not ashamed to be a part of the amateur photography bandwagon. Anyway, I will share a few pictures with you (mostly of food) and talk about some of the amazing things I saw and ATE!

I got in late Friday night thanks to a delay (I actually ended up buying a new ticket through a different airline, and my bag went to the wrong airport--not off to a great start)! My cousin, her boyfriend, and I hit up the local drag (read: amazing) bar Kit Kat Lounge & Supper Club. The food was spectacular. I had grilled cheese made with brie and a tomato reduction with basil oil and the Zsa Zsa Gabor italian sausage stuffed ravioli with a spicy parmesan cream sauce. The food was fantastic and the entertainment unforgettable. I have a couple pictures on my camera that I can add to the post later.

Saturday was spent walking around downtown Chicago doing all the touristy things and we ended up at the top of the Hancock Building (the 96th floor) for a cocktail.
 The Bean

 Top of the Hancock Building

For dinner we went to Hubbard Inn, a tavern style restaurant and bar where I drank delicious cocktails such as the Ginger Flip (absolut citron, domaine de canton, egg white, aperol, egg white, lemon juice), the English Daisy (patron reposado, lime juice, english lavender elixir), and my personal favorite, the Hepburn (effen cucmber, st. germain, lemon juice). We snacked on goat cheese stuffed, bacon wrapped dates and all shared small dishes including a three-cheese flatbread, rabbit stew, ahi tuna, and truffle ravioli. The food and drinks were phenomenal and the atmosphere was quite enjoyable.
 Ginger Flip

The next morning we went to brunch at Angelina Ristorante, a place close to my cousin's apartment in Boystown. For $21 we got a bottomless mimosa brunch with about 10 different plate choices. I had the classic scrambled eggs, bacon, and home fries. I was nursing a small hangover (after Hubbard Inn, we went to karaoke and I needed a little liquid courage), so I couldn't handle the more rich breakfast dishes, however I would love to try the Eggs Benedict with spinach one day!

We headed downtown to get on the Architectural Boat tour. The boat went along the north and south branches of the Chicago River and I learned some great history of the city and it's architecture.
View of the City from the Chicago River

After the tour, we went to BIN 36, a wine and cheese bar where I had some of the best cheese I have ever tasted! I got a wine flight (tastes of 2 whites and 2 reds--they had many options) and we shared two cheese flights, a cheddar flight, and a flight of cheeses from several different animals. Some memorable options were a 10-year Wisconsin cheddar and a buffalo mozzarella, as well as one that I can't remember the name of, however it was horseradish-y and earthy and I did not enjoy it at all! Hopefully I can find out the name so I can avoid it in the future.
 Cheese Flights

That night, we went to Gino's East of Chicago for some deep dish pizza. We had the classic sausage patty pizza and it was delicious. I could only eat one piece (that stuff is thick!), but it was awesome. I was also able to enjoy a Fat Tire beer, something I can't get in Florida. We wanted to head to Pops for Champagne for an after dinner cocktail, however, I was feeling on the heavy side (hmmm...wonder why) and didn't know if I could be rolled over to the bar. Instead we headed home and watched a movie. Next time I am in town, we will definitely be hitting it up, as well as a few of the restaurants from Top Chef contestants!

Monday was mostly a recovery day. We spent some time walking along Lake Michigan and walked over to Phoebe's for cupcakes. I got a Pancakes and Bacon Cupcake while my cousin opted for the Salted Caramel (that was my second choice, but I DO NOT turn down bacon).
 Lake Michigan

Cupcakes from Phoebe's

I spent about 4 hours on a layover in Nashville on the way home (I was pretty angry at the time, but Southwest gave everyone a $100 voucher for the inconvenience, which partly made up for the trouble) and finally plopped into bed at about 2 am Monday night. 

What a trip!

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Back to Basics

Yesterday I finally tried a Barre Pilates class. The most popular brand of this workout routine seems to be PureBarre, but there is not a PureBarre studio in my area. I scoured the internet looking for something similar close to home and came up empty. Thankfully, my friend Virginia (who graciously tried Bikram Yoga with me) knew of a studio about 3 miles from my house.

I signed up for "Barre Formation Plus" at Transformation Pilates Studio which is the basic barre class with a little cardio thrown in. My first class was free and the teacher, Alison, was fabulous! She was so welcoming and really had time to work with all of us individually because the class was so small. She even did a lot of the exercises with us (and she is 5 months pregnant with twins, so she is obviously committed)!!

I knew I would enjoy this class because it reminded me of my days as a ballerina, warming up on the bar (well, this was more intense, but the same technique was there). My legs were shaking when I left, partly due to my lack of exercise recently, and feel nice and sore this morning. Sore legs are a sign of a good workout!

I signed up for a month unlimited of barre classes--hopefully to get my butt in gear and my body ready for bikini season! I'm glad this week's exercise experiment turned out better than the last.

Friday, March 30, 2012

Hot Yoga is....Hot....

I am always open to trying new fitness classes. I have done Step, Body Pump, Zumba, Spinning, and TRX. The only one I stuck with was Step (in college) and TRX (did it for a few months last year).

I have a few Facebook friends always talking about Bikram Yoga at this studio--the practice of yoga in a room heated to 105 degrees. Sounds crazy, right? IT IS.

I really wanted to try it. Yoga has never really been my thing--I am not all Woooosaa and Namaste. I don't shop at lululemon and I don't like granola. Okay...those are stereotypes, but ya know what I'm saying? Anyway, I always like to try something new.

Let's just say, I don't think it is for me. I did all the right things. 1. Hydrate like crazy 24 hours before. 2. Don't drink caffeine before class. 3. Come on a empty stomach. 4. Wear almost no clothing. I almost passed out twice, got super dizzy, and overall, just wasn't having a good time. It obviously takes some getting used to, but I don't think I'll be back for more. The teacher was very nice, accommodating, and helpful, but it's just not for me!

Up next, my friend Virginia (who sweetly went to Bikram with me) and I are going to try Barre Pilates. She has been before and assures me it is a good workout! Can't wait!

My First 15K

A couple weeks ago, I ran my first 15K (which is about 9.3 miles). This is the longest distance I have ever run in my entire life! The run takes place in Jacksonville, and the weather is a gamble in March. Thankfully, the sky was overcast and it was a tad windy. This was wonderful for the flat parts of the run, but the wind made the two bridges on the course nearly impossible! I didn't practice with bridges, but I managed to complete the race with a personal record! I completed in 1:40:25 which is a pace of 10:46 min/mile. I know this is no race winning pace, but for someone who just started running last year, I am pretty proud of myself!

A friend from work and her husband surprised me right before the last mile of the race with a sign cheering me on. It was a little inside joke from work that really put a smile on my face (actually, it made me cry for a second--a sign of exhaustion!!) and gave me the motivation to finish strong!

Here is the sign:

What's next? Maybe a Half Marathon?? :)

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Holla fo a Dolla

This is what happens when you run 7 miles in cheap (but awesomely colorful) Target socks.

Quirky socks: 1, Kristin: 0
Say hi to my toe! 
Excuse the phone pictures, I have no fancy camera...(yet?)

In more awesome news, I leave you with this photo so the image of my toe doesn't haunt your dreams: this is my sweet pup/rascal/gremlin/rat/fox Isabella. She is cute and sometimes a pain in the ass, but I love her all the same. Expect many photos of her in the future.

Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Beauty Favorites

I thought I would write about a few of my favorite beauty products. I have found a few staples that I don't stray from, but there are some things I am always changing--in search for the perfect fit for my skin.

I wash my face daily with Say Yes to Tomatoes Daily Clarifying Cleanser. I just started using this, but I already love it. It smells great, is 98% natural (fewer harsh chemicals), and makes my skin feel smooth.

I take my makeup off as soon as I get home from work and these are my favorite wipes from Neutrogena. The smell is calming, and the wipes moisturize my face at the same time as they clean it. I also have the Say Yes to Blueberries Makeup Removing Wipes, but haven't used them yet.

Aveeno's Positively Radient Daily Moisturizer is a product I have been using for years. It has SPF 15 (I always wear sunscreen on my face) and is smooth on my skin, which is helpful when applying makeup.

My two favorite products from NARS are the blush in "Orgasm" (quite a name, huh?) and the Pure Matte Lipstick in Carthage. Orgasm is NARS most popular product for a reason. It has the perfect amount of pink, bronze, and sparkle. The Pure Matte Lipstick is long lasting, bright, and an awesome shade of hot pink. It adds a little oomph to my daily makeup!

The best bronzer I have come across is from Hoola from Benefit. It is a matte bronzer (with no shimmer whatsoever), which I really like, because I already use a shimmery blush and I don't want to look like a disco ball at work. I can put it all over my face (this is also good, because I don't let my face get any sun), without looking too fake. If I want a little shimmer (to go out at night) I add a little bit of Bare Minerals bronzer in Trudy.

I used to spend $$$ on designer mascaras, but I always found that drugstore mascara works best for me. I go through it quickly (it gets clumpy after about a month and a half) and this Cover Girl Lash Blast Fusion gives me volume and length. I get the waterproof so it lasts all day. It comes off in a cinch with the Neutrogena wipes.

Things I am still looking to perfect? I use Laura Mercier Oil Free Foundation, but I still find it a bit too oily for my skin. I have also used Makeup Forever (my favorite so far), and Neutrogena. I think I will be going back to MakeUp Forever when I need a new bottle, but suggestions are welcome!

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Prepping/Procrastinating for the 15K

In a little less than 2 weeks I will be running in Jacksonville's Gate River Run. The 15K(9.3 mi) will be the longest distance I have ever run, and I am super excited, but I also can't seem to get the motivation to keep training! I was supposed to do 7 miles yesterday, I watched Jane Eyre instead. Then I decided I would get up early and go before work. I slept in instead (because I stayed up to late reading The Girl Who Played With Fire).

I think this gloomy weather (I haven't seen the sun since Saturday) is really getting to me. MUST. GO. RUNNING. AFTER. WORK. The hardest part is getting out the front door, and once I'm done, I feel great. If only I could be more like Kate. Hmph.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

On Repeat

I tend to listen to a song until it wants to crawl in a hole and die. I can't help it, when I'm hooked, I'm hooked! Right now I can't get enough of this song...

Tuesday, February 21, 2012


Yikes. It's been awhile. I am obviously not very good at this blog thing. Here's giving it another go!

I guess I should start by what is going on in my life currently...

I will be starting Medical School in 6 months, so my life is about to get turned upside down, I'm sure. I will be moving to South Florida, getting a fancy (ok, not really) apartment, and starting a new life all alone. Well, my pomeranian Bella will be there. Does she count? I do talk to her, so I think she does.

I ran 6.2 miles (part of a marathon relay) for the first time in my life last week. Never thought I would say that. I still don't consider myself a runner, but I am starting to enjoy it considerably more than I used to (when I couldn't even run a tenth of a mile without dropping to the floor). I am running a 15K (9.3 mi) in a couple of weeks and I am nervous/excited/what if my legs fall off?? What's next, and half marathon, then maybe a marathon??? WHO AM I?

I've been reading a lot. I starting a 2012 Book Challenge using the Good Reads site. I'm already on Book 7 of 25! I finally read The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo and I loved it! It was a slow start, however I really got into after the first 50 pages. I already bought the second book in the series. I also read a lot of YA books because I like to live through others' (fictional) HS experiences since mine were less than exciting. Seriously, I was a nerd.

I am really really really going to try and blog more often. I want to get a better blog design, and start including more pictures, but one thing at a time.