Pilger, Nebraska

Monday, June 30, 2014

My time spent in the Ozarks over the weekend went way too fast and was way too much fun. I've got a ton of great photos to share but before I post the fun photos I've got some not-so-fun photos I'd like to post first.

Chris and I left the Ozarks yesterday and headed to Nebraska where we'll be spending the week to celebrate the 4th of July. As some of you may know, Nebraska has been getting hit pretty hard with tornados this summer. In fact as I write this at this very moment the sky is an eery black/green color and the National Weather Channel keeps beeping at me telling me to take cover. Poor Harlow won't let me stand up because he refuses to leave my lap.

But anyway, about ten miles outside of the town where I grew up is a town called Pilger. Two weeks ago Pilger was hit by two tornados that absolutely tore the town apart. Here's a photo storm chasers caught of the two twisters.

I'd seen photos of the destruction in Pilger, but as Chris and I drove by the town and saw it person it was even worse than I had expected. There were huge holes in the ground where only the bottom of a basement remained. Cars were flipped on their backs and some were just completely torn in half. But the hardest thing to see was families still searching through the mess looking for pieces of their lives.

It's just sad to see a little town like Pilger taken out so quickly. In just a matter of minutes so many peoples lives were completely flipped upside down.

But luckily the people of Nebraska are resilient, they'll rebuild.

If you'd like to help you can do so by clicking here. There's also a song called "We're Gonna Build Us A New Town" you can listen to here. CDs are being sold for the relief effort. You can also check out County Road Music for more information. Every little bit helps.

I know this is kind of a downer post for a Monday, but when something like this hits so close to home, it just wouldn't feel right for me not to post about it.

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Life Through My Closet

Saturday, June 28, 2014

Introducing Valerie from Life Through My Closet.

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Hey guys! Valerie here from Life Through My Closet and I'm so excited to be taking over The Daily Tay today! Let's get started...

1. Let's start simple, how did you choose the name Life Through My Closet?
Well, my blog was originally named Blonder Blogger, creative right? It was a temporary name until I decided what I really wanted to do with my blog. I really wanted my blog to be all about fashion, but I still like to write about many different aspects of my life. I liked the name Life Through My Closet because it incorporated fashion but didn't necessarily hold me to only writing about fashion.

2. Have you always been in love with fashion?
Yes, ALWAYS. I just didn't always dress fashionable. I used to be just a comfy jean and tshirt kind of girl who bought a lot of fashion magazines, but after many years in retail I've learned how to look super cute but still be comfortable!

3. What are some fashion trends you are loving this summer?
I'm newly addicted to rompers! Not only are they super cute but they're so easy for the summer. I also love maxi dresses/skirts and bandeaus under tanks. I'm all about that easy fashion.

4. Do you have any big plans for the 4th of July?
To watch as many fireworks as possible! I absolutely love fire works and 4th of July fairs. I normally watch them in a couple different Chicago suburbs every year because they all do them on different nights, but this year my boyfriend and I will also be going to Navy Pier for fireworks! I'm way too excited.

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5. What are three things we should know about you?
-I'm starting my own online boutique! Check out my new scarf line here! I"m very excited to be sharing this with everyone as its been a dream of mine for quite some time!
-I've lived in Chicago my whole life and I think its the greatest place on earth! If you've never spent some time in Chicago, I highly recommend it.
-I love when people comment on my posts or email me! It literally makes my day and I will always reply as soon as possible so be sure to stop by!

*Comments have been turned off, click here to say hello to Valerie.

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Road Tripping

Friday, June 27, 2014

We left the city to spend a weekend in the Ozarks. And as you can tell we were both very excited about it.

Harlow decided pretty quickly he likes it down here. He likes it so much he woke me up the minute the sun started to rise and started begging to go outside and play. Traveling with him is really like traveling with a toddler. When I finally decided to get up at 7:00 a.m. he was just sitting beside the bed staring at me. I can't help but wonder how long he'd been watching me. The second I opened my eyes he slapped his paw on my face as if to say FINALLY!!!

Mornings at the lake are my favorite. Especially because our host Sara is a little pastry chef and baked us the best muffins to eat while we sipped our coffee on the dock.

And this is pretty much what we'll be doing for the next few days. Hope everyone has a great weekend!

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Congratulations, You're Not Good Enough

Thursday, June 26, 2014

I got my email yesterday afternoon telling me whether or not I made a Harold Team at the iO Theater. At the end of every iO graduation class the faculty chooses the best players and puts them on a team (known as a Harold team) and then they get a run of shows at the theater. In the improv world, it's a pretty big deal if you make that team, at least I think it is.

Loser McGee here didn't make that team.

It reminded me of the time in middle school when I went to the gym every single day after school for nearly two months in an attempt to break the "shuttle run record." Even though I worked really hard and I wanted it so bad, sometimes wanting it isn't enough. I came really close, but I never broke it. But now that I'm thinking about this I can't help but feel that it was kind of a dick move of Mr. Jeffries not to just give me the damn record. I mean it was a handheld stop watch for God's sake, I know I couldn't have been off by more than 1/10 of a second or something because I was pretty fast, for all I know the extra time was his delay in reaction. I mean here's a little girl who clearly has nothing going for her (like friends or a social life) because she's coming to a gym every day to break a record that involves running a bean bag back and forth. Cut the poor thing some slack.

But I digress, clearly I've moved on from that situation...

The thing of it is, I honestly didn't expect to make a team. I knew there were people who were better than me because I'd watch them on stage perform consistently really well week after week and think damn they're good. There's no denying God given talent, especially in a think-on-your-feet kind of setting like improv.

I am fully aware that every person who made the team deserves to be there and is in fact a better improviser than me. So why then I wonder, why was it still such a punch to the gut to receive that email confirming I'm not good enough?

Because rejection just sucks. Sure it gets easier the more frequently it happens, but it never stops sucking.

The worst part is that the email started with "Congratulations" and then went on to say something like ... congratulations on completing the program, but you're not good enough.

Talk about going from high to low in under a second.

So initially I was super bummed, then sad, then really mad, and after all of those emotions passed I'm feeling motivated again. Motivated and competitive. The little girl inside of me who likes to run bean bags across a gym floor is refusing to believe she's not good enough. Not yet anyway.

Because such is life. You win some, you lose some. What can you do?
Just keep swimming. Just keep swimming. Just keep swimming.

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A Day In My Life

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

I always love when bloggers do the photo diary posts of a day in their life. I like to look at their peaceful mornings when they get up extra early to enjoy their artistically crafted lattes on their balconies that overlook the beach or the NYC skyline as they go over their to-do list for the day in their beautiful $100 planners. (I was going to name drop a designer planner here but I'm so out of touch with this kind of thing I didn't even know who to name drop.)

And so I thought about doing my own "day in the life." But then I got up today and realized I'd have to try pretty damn hard to make my life look cool. For starters my mornings aren't peaceful or relaxing. I wake up almost every single day in an absolute panic. Usually because I've pushed snooze on my phone for a good hour or two.

When I finally drag myself out of bed I typically put on the first thing I can find, which is most likely the sweatshirt hanging on the side of my laundry basket. Clothes in the laundry basket = dirty. Clothes hanging on the edge of laundry basket = maybe worn/maybe not, not really dirty, but not worthy of being hung back up either.

And once I'm dressed in yesterday's clothing Har and I go on our first walk of the day. When we get home I immediately make some coffee while Harlow watches me, patiently waiting for his morning treat, and then I eventually wander out to my office area.

See that little office chair hiding in the corner? That's my "office."

It's a little nook I've turned into my work space. Kinda like how Joey turned the nook in the Tanner family room into his bedroom in the early episodes.

And depending on the squirrel situation outside, Harlow is usually behind me ready to burst through the front window at any second.

Or he's happily snoozing like this.

I think we both know it's usually the first.

But let me back up here and let it be known that before I start any work I always eat breakfast. It's probably my favorite meal of the day. Right now I'm on a big bagel sandwich kick. It might not look healthy, but I think it is. Maybe.

It's just 1 egg, 2 slices of turkey bacon, spinach, mushroom, cheese, all tucked inside a bagel-thin from Trader Joes. That can't be that bad, right? Regardless I'm okay with eating a big breakfast because my lunch is always light. In the summer I eat a yogurt parfait for lunch almost every day. Unless I'm hungover, in that case I'll eat my cabinets.

I add a little cereal on top for some crunch because it's healthier than granola. And mostly because it's cheaper too.

But back to my "office" where I spend most of my day. I manage the social media accounts for several businesses so I start my work load like I start my morning- in a panic. I'm almost always certain there's not enough time in the day to accomplish everything so I'm usually overwhelmed for a good part of my morning. I create graphics, Tweet, Facebook, Pin, write blog posts for company pages, make videos, I'll pretty much do whatever a client asks. I try to work as quickly and efficiently as possible because I know it's only a matter of time before Harlow demands another walk.

Because yes, I've managed to raise a dog who knows that he runs my life. It's nobody's fault but my own so I've simply accepted it at this point.

And now because I'm back in panic mode as this post has taken me much longer than it should have, I'll just sum up the rest of my day by saying it's pretty much everything I just said repeated five more times. Food. Work. Dog. Until it's time for happy hour with a glass of wine on my patio and usually a comedy show at night. Tonight I'm seeing SNL's Aidy Bryant perform at iO with Virgin Daiquiri and I couldn't be more excited. She's one of my favs.

And I just realized how ironic it is that I felt rushed through out this entire post because that truly is a day in my life- I'm always in an unnecessary rush.

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Going Lulu at Lululemon

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Walking into a Lululemon is a lot like how I imagine Curly Sue must have felt when she got her first really nice bath at the rich woman's apartment-  even though she knew it wasn't real and probably wasn't going to last long, she pretended for just a second she belonged in that life anyway.

I usually find myself wandering in Lulu because I'm hiding from something else, usually my online bank statement or a call from Comcast. I like to go into this store and pretend it's where I always shop, as if debating between $130 polka-dot or floral yoga pants is simply my norm.

I will also occasionally come here because it's usually highly air conditioned and maybe the beautiful Lulu girls will think I'm covered in sweat because I just got done cycling (at Soul Cycle because I'm rich, remember) and not that I've been chasing my dog around at a urine infested dog park, searching for a leaf big enough to pick up his deuce pile because once again I've forgotten to bring a bag. I'm not that girl, not at Lulu I'm not, anyway.

The peppy greeter who waits by the door in her peppy Lulu gear says hello when I walk inside and asks if she can help with anything.  I smile back and tell her, "No, I'm good. Just browsing." Which is code for, "No, I'm poor. Just pretending to shop."

And so I browse the running shorts because Lulu-Me runs marathons, in $55 shorts no less. Shorts with a skirt on them, how adorable.  I can't tell you how many times I've been on a jog and thought to myself, you know what these shorts are missing? A nice feminine flap over the top. I make a mental note to come back and buy the striped pair someday, like when I start to run. Or have money.

And then I see the hoodies hanging in a row and my heart melts a little. I LOVE hoodies. And the grungy middle schooler in me gets absolutely gitty over the little thumb holes Lulu has in their beautiful $140 sweatshirts with the iconic Lulu sign on the front. This would mean I wouldn't have to slit them with a knife like I did when I was a thug. I want them all.

But it's at this moment then the shelves upon shelves of yoga pants in all different patterns, lengths, textures, and colors beckon me over. The skinny mannequins wearing them look great and for a second I get jealous of their artificial legs and wonder if they do yoga, or if those perfectly sculpted muscles are from Pilates? Or perhaps they were just made that way.

"We're better than you," the mannequins taunt. "We don't eat gluten, or carbs, or GMOs, or chocolate, or soda, or splenda, or caffeine, or alcohol, or wheat, or dairy, or meat, or food. Just your soul. soul. soul."

I must be starting to lose it I think. And I am. This store makes me crazy. It makes me Lulu. The pretty patterns on the clothing and the photos of jacked female athletes next to inspiring life quotes on the wall swirl around me telling me to buy, buy, buy. Forget the price, Lulu's clothes really do make you look better.  There's a reason every woman on the street proudly marks herself as a part of the cult with that small "stylized A" logo appearing somewhere on her body.

Before coming in here I was okay with my ratty old Target exercise tops and pants that I bought off the clearance rack for $5.99 a piece. They get the job done. And by "job" I mean day drinking on my patio or laying on my couch for endless hours watching Orange Is The New Black.

But this place makes me think I need a $74 racerback top with the three stripes across the chest. I NEED IT. If I buy it I will probably start working out. And then I will have more energy. And then I will have a better job. And more money. And better hair. And skin. And relationships. And my dog will learn how to pick up his own poop. And I will no longer question where my life is going every single day...

Why would I? I have a beautiful new work out top that is made from material that is sweat resistant, that also magically transforms the scent of body odor into that of a spring rain shower falling into a pond at the base of a lavender volcano. It's called lyrca, I think.

But then.

But then I'm brought back to life when another Lulu girl suddenly appears and asks if I'd like a dressing room. A dressing room? Like to try this stuff on?

"No, I'm good," I lie. The yoga pants I typically buy come in sizes like small, medium, large and one size fits all because they're marked down to $5 so I'm buying them regardless of how low the crotch area sags. Yoga pants sized like dress pants just confuse me. And yoga pants sized even smaller than normal dress pants just make me feel bad about myself.

And so as quickly as I imagined my new fake life with my new fake wardrobe, I say good bye to it all.

I walk outside, back into my reality and am once again the sane, practical person who realizes Lululemon yoga pants won't make me a better person, or give me a better life. That's just silly and we all know it.

But I think everyone can agree they most definitely give you a better ass.

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A Love Letter To Chicago

Sunday, June 22, 2014

Every summer I get a big old crush on Chicago and remember why it is I choose to live in a city that is basically intolerable for about five months out of the year. Especially this past winter you guys- it was so so hard.

But then summer happens and the city just comes alive.

And then there's the food in this city. Oh the food. Chris and I may have gone a little overboard with our dietary choices this weekend. Judge us lightly.

On Saturday we jumped on our bikes and foolishly thought we'd get lunch at the infamous Hot Doug's. The three hour line thought otherwise. Chicago people don't screw around with their hot dogs.

And I suppose I should probably back up and show you the blue cheese fries we (shamefully, very shamefully) ordered at DMK Burger Bar on Friday night. Under all of that gross (delicious) white cheese stuff and bacon is a plate of fries... When we were finished we both agreed we'd never do that again. In fact, Chris didn't even want me to post this photo he was so embarrassed we ate something so bad. But we did it so we have to own up to it. #neverforget

After we couldn't get into Hot Doug's on Saturday we went down the street to Honey Butter Fried Chicken instead. I'm not a huge fried chicken kind of person, but oh my gosh was this stuff good. That little bowl of honey butter didn't go far enough.

We spent Sunday drinking beers and eating tacos on the patio at Big Star. And this is why I rarely wear my hair all the way back... Because I look like Stephanie Tanner.

This is Chris's bitchy resting face. Isn't he the cutest?

Cheese fundido. Ugh too. much. cheese. But so damn good.

And some sort of bean concoction. (Like I said, Chris and I went a little overboard.)

I know what you're thinking. We're gross. But I swear we don't eat like this all of time so don't start worrying about our arteries or cholesterol or whatever, during the week we eat pretty healthy... Usually.

I even bought Chris a new grill yesterday so we can eat even more grilled chicken/fish during the boring week days. You don't know what love is until you've pushed a huge grill in a Home Depot cart down three busy Chicago blocks because it wouldn't fit in your car... Yes, I did this. And I got a lot of stares. It didn't help that I looked pretty dirty because we'd been biking all day, I'm pretty sure people just thought I was another crazy cart lady scavenging the dumpsters looking for things- like grills.

Just living the Chicago dream, someone's gotta do it.

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Shrimp Ceviche

Okay ceviche lovers, I've got a quick and easy recipe you have to try out this summer.

Last weekend Chris and I ate at our favorite mexican restaurant by our house and ordered the ceviche as an app. It came served on five chips, which is all good and fun except for the fact we were out to dinner with two other people- which meant I only got one chip. I don't know about you, but I like to eat ceviche like I eat salsa, in excessive gross amounts. So after we were finished I left still craving more.

And so yesterday I finally decided to make my own batch with ingredients I had in my fridge.

Here's what I used:
Cooked shrimp
1 yellow pepper
1 red onion
2 tomatoes
1/2 cucumber
2 limes
Olive oil
Cayenne Pepper
Garlic Salt

Mix it all together and wala!
*That's a joke intended to mean "voila." My friend Roy informed me not everyone might get it however.

If you're looking for a fresh new salsa recipe for summer, I highly suggest this one! I know I will be making it for 4th of July festivities next week. And if you want another take on a great ceviche recipe check out this one.

Okay that's all for now, resume your regular Sunday evening activities.

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Seven of the Best Bloody Marys I've Had In Chicago

Friday, June 20, 2014

It's the weekend and I've got one thing on my mind. When and where I'm going to get a Bloody Mary. Luckily for me this city is not short on them. Below is a list of some of my favorites.

1. Dunlays on Clark.

This classic Bloody from Dunlays never disappoints. Dunlays is one of the first places I brunched when I moved to Chicago so this Bloody will always have a special place in my heart. And what's not to love about getting a pony boy of Miller High Life on the side?

It's like a relish tray in a Bloody and it's delicious. Au Cheval is probably one of my favorite spots in the city. If you come to Chicago, come to Au Cheval.

My photo doesn't do this Bloody justice. Let's just say there's a reason Twisted Spoke continues to make everyone's list for having the best Bloody, because it's just that good. And so is their food. Get their breakfast chilaquiles and your life will never be the same.

For obvious reasons. And because I'm just a fan of Home Slice in general. This place has it figured out, there's never been a time when I've come here and it's not completely packed.

5. Two Sparrows.

I love when Bloodys are a little darker than usual. And anything when a side of jerky is good in my book.

6. Eleven City Diner.

Just like their food portions, this Bloody comes oversized and overly good.  I was pleasantly surprised with how good Eleven City's Bloody is. It has just the right amount of garnishes and spice.

I also love the meat and potatoes Bloody from Bangers and Lace, as well as the Bloody Mary from Publican with a beer back of Zombie Dust,  but I'm struggling to find my photos of them at the moment. And honestly this list could go on and on but now I'm hungry so I need to wrap it up.

The bottom line is this, Chicago is full of great Bloody Marys. I know there's hundreds more I need to try. The next places on my list to hit up include Fountainhead, Longman & Eagle, Smoke Daddy, The Grid and The Savoy. Know somewhere else I should go? Comment below!

And #7 (honorable mention) goes to Chef Chris for whipping up these bad boys in our kitchen a few months ago.

Hope you all have a bloody good weekend!

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