Thursday, April 29, 2010

#8: Eat at a Rick Bayless Restaurant

Today my best friend Erin, her sweet baby Katelyn, and I headed to Xoco, Rick Bayless's latest creation which offers the best of Mexican street food.  Bayless is well-known in the food world but I've never been to any of his restaurants before.  I couldn't leave Illinois without rectifying that little problem!  There was a line to the door but we moved through it pretty quickly. The hostess was great about telling us the approximate wait time and then finding a table for us.  We had to share with 2 other people but no one seemed to mind.  Katelyn made friends with the surrounding tables- no one is immune to her cuteness!

We ordered the chips and guacamole, a great decision.  I could swim in a vat of that guac and be eternally happy.  Even the chips were great- perfectly salted and just crisp enough to hold the guacamole without breaking.  I had the Choriqueso Torta, which had homemade chorizo sausage, roasted poblano, artisan jack cheese, and tomatillo salsa.  It was insanely delicious.  My torta was made in the wood burning oven, while Erin's was made on the griddle.  Erin had the Milanesa Torta with chicken, black beans, artisan Jack cheese, pickled jalapenos, and tomatillo-avocado salsa.  Of course, we tried each others'! Katelyn had to content herself with baby food.  I'm glad she didn't know what she was missing out on. To top off my meal, I had the Aztec Chocolate, which added a little chili.  Mexican hot chocolate is the best!

Xoco was a delightful experience through and through.  I hope to make it to Frontera Grill and Topolobampo some day soon...

Sunday, April 25, 2010

#12: Modern Wing at the Art Institute

My friend Kelly is visiting Chicago for the first time this weekend while her husband attends a medical conference.  While it was a rather foggy, dreary day, the rain mostly held off yesterday so she still has a favorable impression of our fair city.  I used to be in the habit of going to the Art Institute almost yearly but it's been a few years since I made it there.  Kelly's visit was the perfect excuse to cross another item off my 31 Things!  I reacquainted myself with some of my favorites in the permanent collection, although somehow missed the room holding my absolute favorite: The Crucifixion by Francisco de Zurbaran. That particular          
painting has been mesmerizing me since high school.                                        The Ocean- Harry Brodsky
The enormity, the depth, the power of it bids me to sit on the nearby bench every time.  Perhaps it was better that I missed it yesterday as we still managed to wander through the museum for 5 hours.  I would definitely recommend the newer exhibit Modern in America: Works on Paper.  Lots of interesting work, including The Ocean.  After lunch, we made our way to the Modern Wing.  As always in modern art, there are pieces that can only be described as "different."  There were certainly pretentious pieces (sculptured kitty litter?  Please!)  and pieces that you would be tempted to comment "any 5 year old could do this."  And certainly there was some that offended my mother when she visited in December.  But for the most part, I was absorbed by the art in front of me.  I adored this one by Mark Rothko (left) and found Sigmar Polke's piece with the ducks to be whimsical (right).  A few pictures do not do the Art Institute justice.  If you live in the area or travel through Chicago, I would highly encourage a visit.  And don't bypass a walk through Millennium Park after.  Otherwise you'll miss out on an opportunity to take funny pictures at the Bean!

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

#28: Last Minute Dinners

I was hoping to bring back Last Minute Dinners (in which I send out an email in the morning for a same day meal for whoever is free) tomorrow night but two things happened.  First, Book Club was canceled tonight and rescheduled.  Second, a friend wanted to go out for Indian food tomorrow night.  So instead of sending out an email this morning inviting friends to dinner, last night I called my good friend Jill to see if she and her fiance were free for dinner.  It turns out Jill was free but Landon wasn't.  (His loss!)  Tonight I made Pastor Ryan's version of Pasta alla Carbonara and it was amazing!  I am not overstating the amazingness of this meal.  Jill and I ate plateful after plateful and there is still tons leftover.  It felt nice to cook and be spontaneous (even though I gave Jill 24 hours notice, I'm still counting this as a Last Minute Dinner.  Because the next month is CRAZY.  And because LMD is my invention so I can tweak the "rules" if I want to.)  I also had a nice bottle of wine I've been saving for a special occasion and figured this was a good time to break it out.  Jill and I haven't had one-on-one bonding time in awhile and with me moving and her getting married this summer, I'm not sure when the next time will be.  I'm sure I'll introduce LMD to the Nashville crowd but I'm glad tonight worked out.

Saturday, April 17, 2010

#2: Moving to Nashville

The biggest, scariest item on my 31 Things is moving to Nashville.  Even though I've been thinking and praying about moving for more than a year, I knew that adding it to the list was akin to planting my flag in the ground.  If I tell everyone I'm doing it, then I can't back down unless something catastrophic happens.  Luckily, nothing catastrophic has happened thus far.  In the past week, I had a screening interview for my dream job, found a duplex to rent in Nashville, announced my decision to friends and family, turned in my letter of resignation at work, announced my final day (May 19!) to staff, and started telling patients that I'm leaving.  Whew!  Makes me tired just writing all that.  God has seriously been lining things up for me. 

In January I realized that the job search might not line up the way I wanted to and that there was a possibility I'd be moving sans job.  I was raised that one doesn't quit their job unless one has a new job lined up.  However, the past few years I've been saving for a house so I also have a nest egg accumulated.  If worse came to worse and no job emerged and I couldn't find any nanny or bookstore positions (both of which I would seriously consider and possibly even relish), I would be OK for some time.  So I decided that this would be another step of faith.  I told my roommate I was definitely moving once our lease ended in May so she could figure out what she wanted to do.  When our lease renewal arrived in March, we filled out paperwork to vacate.  I would be officially homeless May 24 and it terrified me even though I was 100% sure I was heading in the right direction. 

After last week's events, I do feel that God blessed this step of faith.  If I had renewed my lease for another year, I would have missed out on a huge opportunity!  I had been planning to go down to Nashville last weekend for some time, hoping to find a place to live and do some networking.  Two days before I left, I was contacted regarding a pediatric social work position.  HR had interviewed me about 5 or 6 weeks before and I'd heard nothing since so I figured I was out of the running.  The timing was insane- something only God could dream up.  Since I was going to be in town anyway, I was able to meet with the social work manager and learn more about the position, meet potential coworkers, and so much more.  I have a phone interview lined up next week.  I am hopeful.  Even if I am not offered the position, I am confident that something else will come up.

It's been interesting hearing everyone's feedback.  Everyone is so encouraging and many do not seem surprised by this decision.  My parents, who have been in on this from the beginning, are excited for me.  They never expected me to stay here after grad school but my attempts to move out of state fizzled.  God literally slammed the door shut 6 years ago.  And now He seems to be leaving the door wide open.  It is so cool to see His timing in this!  My coworkers and patients are sad that I'm leaving but also excited for me.  As everyone keeps saying, I'm young and I don't have any attachments here so why not?  My heart does break for the patients and families that depend on me heavily.  Even though I know who I would like to take over my position, the odds of this person starting before I leave are slim.  Still, at least there's a possibility that she will be hired!  I went to see a young bereavement client the other day for the first time since her dad died.  She had asked her mom to set up a visit with me- this never happens!  She really wanted me to do all her follow up this next year and in any other circumstance, I'd be all over it.  But I can't not move just because some people depend on me.  All I can do is try to make sure they have another source of support.  The good moments do not outweigh my conviction that hospice social work is no longer the right fit for me.  I'd love to see if pediatric social work remains my dream job once I actually start doing it- I think it'll be even better than I think! 

Right now I'm figuring out how to get all my belongings down to my new home, comparing moving companies vs. Uhaul, and packing, packing, packing.  Be sure to stay tuned in the coming months as I chronicle my transition from Yankee northerner to Southern transplant.  Maybe you can start taking bets on how quickly I'll develop an accent.  I'm holding firm to this though: I will never like country music!

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Spending time with Anna

I love being an honorary auntie to Anna! I haven't see her since November so I was glad to make up for lost time when I visited this past weekend.
She has grown so much and she runs all over the place.
Best of all, she loves spending time with her auntie.