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Knife Party

Who starts classes on a Sunday?? Apparently- this girl.

The more I’ve been working on my culinary skills, the more I realize that I really don’t have many…so I’ve decided to do something about it and utilize the fantastic culinary school that’s right up the street.

So yesterday Al dropped me off for the 10am knives course and I waved at him and walked into Kendall College like a nervous student all over again.

Kendall offeres tons of courses for the “home chef” that range from one-day to ten weeks, depending on what you’re looking to get out of them.

The class was filled with around 15 of us, mostly female, and we were all given an: apron, chef’s hat, cutting board, knife, scraper (I’m sure it has a chefy name but I don’t know what that is), towel, bottle of water and bowl full of various veggies to cut.

my kitchen station

my kitchen station

I love watching, then doing – and I found Chef Patrick Williams extremely easy to follow and very helpful. Turns out he went to MSU back in the day and played football there too- bonus points!

We diced, minced, chopped, julianned, peeled, cored, sliced and pounded our way thru the bowls- which would eventually become lunch of:

Mexican Potato Salad

onion, avocado, cliantro, salt, roasted red peppers, garlic...and some other magic

onion, avocado, cliantro, salt, garlic…and some other magic

Pineapple Salsa

pineapple, roasted red pepper, onion, cliantro and lots of other stuff that tasted good

pineapple, roasted red pepper, onion, cliantro and lots of other stuff that tasted good. oh and yours truly sautéed up those peppers. 

and Grilled Flank Steak with marinade and corn tortillas.

we learned that the most important thing is to let the steak rest for a bit before slicing

we learned that the most important thing is to let the steak rest for a bit before slicing

Did I learn a lot? Without a doubt- I’d be doing almost everything wrong – including holding the knife.

And I’ve always given props to Chefs, but now that I’ve tried on their shoes, I have mad respect and realize how much training they have just to walk out the door of a culinary school with a basic degree.

It is NOT as easy as it looks, but I plan to have fun trying!

Falling For The LOB/SHOB

Apparently the “LOB” and “SHOB” and all these other weird ways to say “longer than a bob around the shoulder area” is very “in” for hair right now.

Truth be told, I normally don’t follow the trends and stick to my boring long style…but Al had been begging me for some time to loose the extensions and while we were on Honeymoon,  I did just that.

Left with a mullet, when I got back to Chicago I went to see my girl Nicole at Studio 110 and asked her to clean it up.

Like most women of 2014, I brought a Pintrest page with me , full of examples of what I wanted and didn’t want. But mainly I wanted to look like this Olsen twin:

yes, I have no idea if this is Ashley or Mary Kate and that's fine with me

yes, I have no idea if this is Ashley or Mary Kate and that’s fine with me

Nicole said she was totally down but in order to achieve this look I’d need a few pieces of extension in the front to achieve the uneven length, even though my hair was that long- the pieces would add depth. AND she refused to cut it this short off the bat because she knew there was a possibility I’d freak out going from looong to short.

Smart woman.

Here’s what it looked like post-cut (which she did in less than an hour BTW):

one of the creepiest selfies in history- taken at Exhale after acupuncture

one of the creepiest selfies in history- taken at Exhale after acupuncture

Now, I am aware that I’m in a bathrobe and not 90 lbs, but she did a pretty stellar job- no??

Al LOVED it, and said it was “beautiful and classic” so of course I immediately rushed back to have more cut off the shorter side to “edge it up”.

Then it was time for color so Tina of CM Salon took me a shade lighter, added a few pieces back in and Nicole cleaned it up again…resulting in:

less creepy selifie

less creepy selifie

According to these two- the key to this new style are the blunt ends that keep it looking fashionable and not “boring”.

All three of us were pretty shocked to discover that my hair was actually pretty healthy underneath and I’m hoping that with some daily Biotin pills, it will grow on it’s own…if I don’t give up and go long again first.

If you’re thinking about doing this- I must warn you…it’s more work than you think. The pieces in front need to be stick straight in order to look chic, and that means investing in a good flattening iron (I went with this brand per Nicole’s advice).

When I was in NYC this week , I went to a super cute blow dry bar called BDry and opted to mix it up and go with “beachy waves”.  Not her fault at all- but real bad move on my part. Those flipped up ends made me feel 10 years older and took me right back to my 2010 hair (which makes me cringe so hard I won’t even post a pic).

My advice? Go for it, if you’re ready to put in a touch of work. In the end, you can always clip those bad boys back in or go see Tina for a new weave.

1st World Problem Alert

WARNING: This is a blog post about style- for a charity event.

If you don’t want to punch me in the mouth…then please, read on. 

Charity events in Chicago are like Lulu pants in Lincoln Park- on every block- all the time.

Let’s be honest…unless you’re directly involved with the cause- you probably ignore the invites on Facebook like they are Farmville requests and I get it- I’m right there with you. But one event that I’ve loved for years is: The Green Tie Ball. 

I actually think I’ve blogged about it before (read: too lazy to check) because here’s the deal: it’s fun. Really fun. 

You can eat your face off, dress up for a theme party, dance like half of Chicago is watching and gamble your life away with fake money at the tables. It’s so much fun that you almost forget… it’s for a good cause and you’re not just dumping your $$ into the local field of dreams*. *bar where you meet no one ever

This year’s theme is The Great Green Gatsby. (EYE ROLL, SHUT UP) 

I understand that Carey and Leo are played out…but are they? Who doesn’t love channeling old Hollywood glam? 

A few weeks ago when I was shopping in heaven* (*at Randolph Street Market), I stumbled upon this nasty* (*like Janet) green vintage dress with gold beading for $60. I slipped it on and prayed and it happened to be my size. 

to the left to the left

to the left to the left

BUT I haven’t had the proper place to wear it yet- for some reason dancing around my house in front of my dogs and husband isn’t really cutting it. 

the detail is pretty insane, no?

the detail is pretty insane, no?

NOW, I recently decided (with a STRONG nudging from Al) to cut my hair and drop the weave…so I’m not really feeling crazy hair AND wardrobe. My weave =’s Linus’s blanket and without it- safe style appeals to me way more. 

SO…I’m debating between this LBD and the obvi choice….I can always rock this little ditty at a holiday party.

Thoughts in the comments would be much appreciated. 

love this anything but basic black number

love this anything but basic black number

 

How To: Have An Incredible Honeymoon

I’m not sure who thought up this whole honeymoon concept (I’m too lazy to Google it) but dayum- I’m glad they did.

I don’t care if you’re debating on a honeymoon destination or just you’re next trip- please listen to me when I tell you to go to Greece.

WARNING: This blog contains details- you may get bored reading them and I really don’t care. (RIP JOAN RIVERS!!) This is for people who need tips/advice/or just have wanderlust.

Choosing a spot to moon your honey is tough and we chose Santorini and Crete because it felt like the ideal mix of culture and beach.

SANTORINI:

To get to Santorini from Chicago we flew thru London Heathrow- great shopping- INSANE policy on liquids. If you don’t pack your one little ziplock and have it out- you will suffer. (Trust me…you’d rather spend time in Harrod’s and Boots than with a Mr. Bean wannabe taking an hour dissecting the contents of your carry-on)

After a 3 hour and change connection to Santorini we finally arrived at the Katkieis Hotel. I probably looked at photos of this destination 100 times, but the moment I saw it in person, I swear I began to plot my new career as a yoga instructor or goat cheese farmer in this magical place.

We are soooo happy to be here! And a little jet-lagged and delirious.

We are soooo happy to be here! And a little jet-lagged and delirious.

The Katkies was a dream for many reasons including; their placement on the main “drag”, their simple but spacious rooms, the daily breakfast (free!) on your private terrace, the staff who is at your 24 hour disposal, and the infinity pool that overlooks the view.

the view from our terrace was terrible, right?? *and every day was this clear and stunning*

the view from our terrace was terrible, right?? *and every day was this clear and stunning*

 

Example: if you order a bottle of wine by the pool and don’t finish it, they will keep it on ice for you until you want to drink the rest.

Where to Eat:

Taverna Katina. Down in Ammoundi Bay there are a few fishing taverns where the fish is so fresh that the server asks you to follow them into the kitchen and point to the fish on ice and choose the catch you want to eat. This was one of our favorite meals of the trip…we recommend the; fish of the day, grilled octopus, greek salad, and I’m really not sure what else we ordered…but it was all killer.

Tip: wear sneakers if you walk there, you have to either walk down a ton of steps or take a donkey to get to this spot. ( I think you can also opt for a cab, but really – who does that- live a little)

IMG_0004

Sunset Restaurant. Also in Ammoundi Bay, same scene…but the food wasn’t AS good. Maybe it was an off night- and let me please tell you that our meal was still amazing…but the octopus wasn’t as tender and the grilled lobster didn’t blow our minds. Still pretty unreal setting and food.

Sunset Restaurant

Sunset Restaurant

Roka. Multiple members of our hotel staff recommended this local place to us, but I was a stubborn donkey and wanted to take in as much of the view as possible and didn’t listen at first cause this place is tougher to find and doesn’t overlook the “sunset view”. Well guess what- we finally got sick of the tourist jungle and took their advice- and thankfully I’m good at admitting when I’m wrong. ALWAYS TRUST THE LOCALS. This lunch was incredible. Order: the fava, eggplant in a jar, greek salad, bread, baked feta with honey, and chicken risotto.  This place is kinda hard to find, but ask the people where you’re staying or any shop owner and they will guide you.

Random Gyro stop by the bus station. I’m not sure what blog I read, but someone mentioned a spot near the bus station and this HAS to be it. They make their gyros with FRENCH FRIES in them. I don’t eat meat and I was still in love.

Tip: Trip Advisor rates this gelato place called Lolita’s #1 place to eat in Santorini. Well, it happened to also be close to the bus station so we tried it and in my opinion someone is stacking the on line deck- aka- writing fake reviews. Either that or fat Americanos think gelato is a food group.

TO DO:

We took the hotel’s advice and rented a small power boat for an afternoon and let the Captain and his first mate show us the places you can’t see easily by land. We saw; the stunning red sand beach, the hot springs, a bay with ship wrecks, and a little spot with a cliff jump. Our Captain Mikas was super cool and cooked us one of the most incredible meals we’ve ever had in that little kitchen. On board they had; rafts, snorkeling gear, wine/beer/ozo, towels, a jack for music via your i phone and infinite knowledge of the sea and surrounding area. I would gladly eat Ramen for a year in order to save up for this experience.

Saiiiiling

Saiiiiling (on a motor boat)

The red sand beach via our boat

The red sand beach via our boat

Al rented a little convertible one day so we could go see the Black Sand Beach. The roads were pretty simple to navigate and driving around was a cool little trip on it’s own. The hotel and “Beach Clubs” are all partnered so ours set us up with one of the local places where we could rent chairs and grab lunch. The black sand is something else, let me tell you…and the swimming off the beach was clear and warm.

the sand is HOT

the sand is HOT

I may or may not have had some vino on the boat. Al may or may not take that hat no matter where he goes

I may or may not have had some vino on the boat. Al may or may not take that hat no matter where he goes

On the way back we stopped to shop in Fira- which is the more touristy area, filled with shops and cafes. It’s worth stopping if you’re not staying in that area just to walk around and play tourist.

We stayed in Oia, and every day we looked at a set of stairs even more daunting then the ones to Ammoundi Bay that ended with a few docks and the most aqua water you’ve ever seen. We were advised that the trip was; steep, hot and hard- but of course we wanted to try it and I’m glad we did.

down isn't any easier

down isn’t any easier

we swam off the dock before the climb back up

we swam off the dock before the climb back up

Fitness freaks- no need to worry about working out while in Santorini, there are so many chances to climb stairs and streets that you’ll get a major burn sesh without trying.

WHAT TO PACK:

Casual, casual and casual. My friends who’d been there told me to leave my heels at home and pack comfortable sandals and sneakers and they were spot on. Sundresses, shorts and tunics are all you’ll need because even the “fancy” places aren’t dressy and I felt totally normal rocking sneaks with my dresses at night.

Sneakers are cool

Sneakers are cool

They have little shops that sell everything you’ll need and may not want to travel with, stuff like: sunscreen, beach bags, floppy hats, and even fake Ray Bans for around $10 a pair. Leave your stuff at home and use a carry-on- it’s so much easier.

OTHER RANDOM ADVICE:

Coffee shops don’t open until around 9am, yeah…we didn’t get it either. Plan for that if you’re an early riser, but on the flip side- the local bakeries make the most delicious pastries and things you just must try.

The sunset’s are famous here- and everyone gathers by a church for the view, but there are better spots to watch from that are less crowded along the way.

Stay in Oia, or split time between there and Fira so you can see both sides of the island.

Alpha Beer is delicious.

 

CRETE

We literally didn’t want to leave Santorini, and attempted to extend our stay at the hotel but it was booked. I’m convinced things just work out like they’re supposed to and they did because Crete is the bomb diggity.

To get there we took a huge ferry which nearly lead to divorce. Why?

A. I get seasick at times and the two hour ride can be bumpy- I was dreading it.

B. There are around a thousand plus people that rush on this via huge ramp and if you’re claustrophobic (like me)- it is terrifying.

Once we were on though, it was pretty easy. We were sat facing an incredible young Russian couple who was their with their family for a wedding and the conversation and wine they treated us to (because I may have been crying during boarding and acting like an American psycho) really distracted me and the ride flew by without issue.

We checked out several hotels in the Elounda and Agios Nikolaos area of Crete (it’s a HUGE island- we opted for one of the popular beach ends) and split time between the St. Nicolas Bay Resort and Elounda Beach Hotel.

Both were great for different reasons:

St. Nicolas Bay had a more traditional feel, and with it’s blue and white umbrellas and chairs that sat on rocks overlooking the sea- were right out of a film. The breakfast (included in hotel) was a massive buffet of delicious Greek and American choices. They have several restaurants to choose from, they show films outside along the sea, the town is walkable (and full of places to eat and shop) and Nicos- who is the manager will take care of you 24-7.

you are not dreaming, this is the view from your chair

you are not dreaming, this is the view from your chair

Elounda Beach Hotel sits on a property with it’s sister resort- the Elounda Bay Palace. Between these two resorts there are around; 16 restaurants, shops, tennis courts, a spa, several pools, an amphitheater, 2 bays with water sports (wake boarding, SUP, water skiing, kayaks, paddle boats, speed boats), and 23 different kinds of room choices. 23 CHOICES- out of around 400 total rooms. This place is massive- but it doesn’t feel like it. Al and I both are very into the small hotel feel, and somehow this had that- but with a more modern feel.

Our room allowed us to jump right out and swim in the sea, and was literally the most amazing room either of us had ever stayed in (I’m not saying what kind we chose because that’s gauche- but if you are having trouble deciding- message me in the comments and I’ll be more specific).

the ladder back up and view from our room

the ladder back up and view from our room

We took full advantage of the water sports, which were run by a group of guys around our age and a few who were even younger at heart.

Al wake boarding like a  champ in front of our resort

Al wake boarding like a champ in front of our resort

There is a tiny market right off property that has everything you’ll need (rafts, goggles, snorkels) for way less and the owner has an adorable French Bulldog named Gonzo.

not only can you buy the raft on the cheap, he will use his electric pump to inflate it for you as well.

not only can you buy the raft on the cheap, he will use his electric pump to inflate it for you as well.

*breakfast was also included and was a massive spread of every dish you could imagine, including champagne.

Honorable mention goes to: Blue Palace Resort , which we also checked out in person. It’s a massive resort that feels massive and has pretty much everything you’d need in a resort – including private pools with most of the rooms.

WHERE TO EAT:

Normally we never stay on property while on vacation, we like to get out and explore- BUT the Greek restaurant Kafenion was so unreal that we ate there twice. *order the farmer’s salad, octopus, souvlaki, and dish of the day*

One of the bros from the water sports crew recommended a spot across the water called Kantouni and we took a small boat to get there. The salt baked sea bass was so amazing that I joined Trip Advisor just to leave a review. It’s outside and has twinkling lights and is equal parts romantic and relish.

Trip Advisor’s #1 was a local place on the water in Elounda called Lotus Eaters and it was very good too, part of that was because of the friendly owner who also waited on the tables.

WHAT TO DO:

Swim in the sea. The water is crystal clear and the perfect temp, plus there are no sharks or scary things which I clearly appreciated.

Take a boat to Spinalonga Island- which used to be a leper quarantine until 1957. There is a book called “The Island” about the area and Island that you should read before going- it really adds to the history and appreciation. *there are a few books by the same name…so please click on my link if you’re unsure which to read* The trip was a quick ride for us on glassy water and we spent around 30 mins on the island- wear sneakers, go early, bring water.

On The Island post exploration

On The Island post exploration

Walk around Elounda, Plaka and Agios Nikolaos and eat at the local fishing tavernas…we had plans to eat in Plaka but were bummed not to make it there.

Visit an Olive Oil farm or museum- we didn’t have the time but it was on our list. And speaking of that- CONSUME AS MUCH OLIVE OIL AS POSSIBLE.

You think you’ve had olive oil? Just wait- this Creatian stuff is referred to as “liquid gold” for a reason.

OTHER RANDOM TIPS:

Packing is the same as Santorini, but men should pack a pair of pants or two just in case shorts aren’t allowed in the restaurant.

Print your boarding pass before getting to the small airport- you will bypass hours of lines and frustrations.

Swimming was my fitness in place of steep Santorini- we spent most of our time in the sea.

TRAVEL:

We flew home on Aegean Air and connected in Berlin then flew Air Berlin home. Customs was a breeze compared to Heathrow and even though we had under an hour connection- we made it with time to buy a pretzel. *business class on Air Berlin is like a 5 star hotel, and if I could travel like this all the time- distance would be no big deal. The service, food and comfort made me sad to get off the 8+ hour flight.*

FINAL THOUGHTS: 

The only reason we were looking forward to coming home was to see our little pigs. Greece- you are the honey to our moon.

 

 

Beauty Post: How to Look Like You Didn’t Go Out Last Night

Lollapalooza Sunday I showed up to brunch and my friend’s husband looked at me and said; “Wow, you look so ….refreshed?”.

A couple more friends arrive and another said; “I’m not sure what you’re doing…but it’s working!”.

Mind you- I was on day 4 of music festival weekend and felt like donkey. No, I didn’t get fresh botox, come from the spa or use some expensive toning device.

I spent $5.99 at Marshall’s and bought these:

photo-6

Apparently these masks have been HUGE in the Asian beauty market for years, and not only are they in the States- but you can find them on the cheap.

Sephora also has the upscale brands like SKII – they will run you up to $135.

If you want to go big and order those on-line…more power to ya, but I’m obsessed with a bargain. Marshall’s had several brands in their beauty aisle, and I grabbed these Bio Miracle Aloe Collagen masks along with another brand which I already used and threw away so sorry- no info. BAD BLOGGER!

They couldn’t be more simple to use:

Step 1- Take out of packet

Step 2- Unfold and line up the eye, nose and mouth sections with your face. 

Step 3- Wait 20 mins. Optional- scare your boyfriend/husband/dogs

so zexy

so zexy

It’s not a pretty sight, but the results are AMAZING.

 

RPM Steak

I hate going out on Saturday nights. It’s crowded, lines are long, people are drunk and I am cranky.

BUT when the Melman family has a restaurant opening- you go or prepare to suffer mad FOMO. I don’t care if it’s Sunday at midnight, I’d be there.

So last night Alex and I got dressed up* for the RPM Steak opening and had our friends Juliet and Gregor Angus over before for some rooftop rose and “Juliet Spritzers”.

*I wore a dress, Alex wore a nicer v neck tee than usual- aka- his version of dressing up

Our poor husbands/photogs had to deal with us.  my dress: For Love & Lemons, Revolve.com

Our poor husbands/photogs had to deal with us.
my dress: For Love & Lemons, Revolve.com

Juliette and I first met in NYC back in 2001 when we were auditioning for an ESPN Reality Show called Beg, Borrow and Deal. I remember thinking she was nuts, and praying that if I made the show, she wasn’t one of the other three teammates that I’d be traveling with from Times Square to Alcatraz Island.

Well, she was. And we won. And I loved her from the morning we stood in Times Square and began filming, and still love her all these years later.

Bubba, me, Juliette and Josh on the roof of Alcatraz with host Rich Eisen after winning BBD

Bubba, me, Juliette and Josh on the roof of Alcatraz with host Rich Eisen after winning BBD

Clearly that show didn’t turn us into A listers (or any listers) but now Juliet is on Bravo’s Ladies of London and she’s a legit reality star. She literally got stopped for photos on the street- obsessed.

She grew up in Chicago and has family here still, which means we were able to catch up and I FINALLY got to meet her husband.

Juliet and Giuliana are old friends as well, so the opening was the perfect excuse for a night out.

The restaurant was packed with Chicago athletes, news anchors and pretty much everyone you’d want to see. It felt massive, and had multiple levels including an upstairs that’s perfect for private parties.

Both the Melmans and their PR team thought of every detail, per usual- the bars were everywhere and the food stations were ridiculous.

I’m glad I got to see it, cause I know getting a reservation will be pretty much impossible for the next…year or five.

Gregor, Juliette, Giuliana , Bill , me and Alex

Gregor, Juliette, Giuliana , Bill , me and Alex

Cheers *clinks spritzers*

 

 

 

How To: Act Like You’ve Been Here Before

This post is dedicated to CelebTV’s newest rockstar: 20 year-old Jordan Chollette.

JC and me post interview.  *BTW- hey OITNB...you all casting crazy eyes part two? this is my audition pic

JC and me post interview.
*BTW- hey OITNB…you all casting crazy eyes part two? this is my audition pic

What makes this intern so fab you ask? Well, let’s just rewind to last night.

Jordan offered to come work the Glamorama red carpet even though- it was a Friday night and he makes $0 an hour.

Upon arrival he was on time and ready to shoot. It didn’t even dawn on me that this was his FIRST RED CARPET EVER.

But know what’s crazy? When I did finally realize that this was his first rodeo, I felt no panic. None.

Mind you, I still get nervous with photogs who’ve been in the game longer than I have, trust me-  it’s warranted.

But Jordan acted like he knew exactly what was happening, and when he didn’t he watched with a stealth eye. He didn’t try and ask celebs for an autograph, or block another outlet’s shot. And when he made a last second decision to switch lenses, he did it with swift perfection.

On the walk home I got to thinking and realized that this is a rare quality in our industry ESPECIALLY from someone who can’t even legally drink in this country yet.

Ok, I’m done with the lecture, I’m just saying that the new generations are always asking for advice on how to get a gig in media…and this is one key way to make it happen.

As for Derulo…once I showed him a photo from the wedding, something clicked and he realized that he had performed a few weeks earlier. He gave me a gigantic hug, looked at JC’s camera and proceeded to ask if “our viewers” knew what kind of crazy surprise Alex had planned.

Jordan even has a smile on his face while filming!

Jordan even has a smile on his face while filming!

I asked; as far as weddings go, if he thought ours was ok and if he wanted a similar style if/when he gets married someday.

That media savvy kid slyly dodged question 2, and said that he could feel the love at our party and loved that everyone was having such a blast. (and yes,I realized he was a paid performer…BUT trust me- this dude was genuine) (I have video to prove it!) (If JC was actually rolling…i kid)

JD and JC- they just get it.

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