Counting Crows at Ravinia

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The first concert I ever attended was Counting Crows (featuring the Goo Good Dolls), 17 years ago; Monday night I had the chance to hear them play again! This time, at Ravinia, with Toad The Wet Sprocket. Talk about reliving the 90’s. One of the best music producing decades, in my opinion!

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What are we wearing? Why do I have glasses on? 90’s mysteries we will never know the answers to ;)

The concert was held at Ravinia, which is such a fun summer venue. While traditional seats are available, most people opt for the lawn where picnicking is taken to a whole new level! It’s nice to enjoy the music from the comfort of your own space, but also have the option to check out the show at the back of the theater.

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My friend Tamara and I got tickets ages ago. My friend Tedd was also going with a group, and invited us to join them. That’s half the fun! Meeting new people and sharing food and drinks. We also made friends with two older gentleman, who were quite characters. One was wearing the brightest neon yellow shirt (pardon me, tank top) I ever saw, and may or may not have multiple fiancés. Like I said, the fun part of Ravinia!

As for the concert itself, I was pleasantly surprised.  I have one Toad the Wet Sprocket song on my iPhone, “Something’s Always Wrong,” which is one of my favorites, and one which they played that night. But they also played several more that I recognized such as “All I Want,” “Walk on the Ocean,” and more.  Counting Crows was awesome! Adam Duritz sounds just like I remember him from back in the day. Ok, maybe more like I how I remember him from his CDs! Everything they played was familiar, including some of the newer stuff (that I recognized from the radio and from movie soundtracks), but of course my favorites were the oldies from the August and Everything After album, such as “Round Here,” “Rain King,” and of course, “Mr.Jones.”

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Tell me, what was your first concert?

Chicago Pride Parade

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Hey y’all. It’s been so long since I’ve posted that I’ve practically forgotten how to do it. By now, you know my stance; I love blogging, but if it’s a choice of staying inside to draft a post or being out and about, I’ll always choose real life! I do plan to write more in the upcoming weeks, but if you’d like to keep up with me between posts, please follow me on Twitter and Instagram!

We’ll start back up again with a simple post; more of a photo essay. Yesterday was Chicago’s Pride Parade. I’ve been to the parade in New York, but this was my first one in Chicago. We kicked off the day with brunch at Evelyn’s and drinks on her rooftop (great views, but no pictures! I need to get back into blog mode!), before heading over to the parade.

Everyone has a different parade viewing strategy. Some are lucky to watch from the comfort of home:

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Tamara wanted to be front and center, where the action was:

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While Beth, Evelyn, Maria, and I took shelter in the shade (the vantage point from the additional height of the step helped too!):

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If you love people watching as much as I do, the Pride Parade is a good spot for it. These getups were definitely the most tame of the bunch, but you can use your imagination!

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Lots of fun floats, and good music too.

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A great way to spend a beautiful Sunday afternoon, and a great day for love and equality!

 

Here comes the bride!

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I love weddings. So much so that the next day, I’m inevitably left feeling a little blue; the fun is over and I have to say goodbye to all my friends, not knowing when I’ll see them next. However, following Jon & Ken’s wedding, I still had several fun events to attend in honor of Jenni and her upcoming wedding!

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If you’ve read this blog for any length of time (or follow me on Twitter or Instagram), you need no introduction to Jenni, one of my very best friends. We met way back when, at Penn State – over 15 years ago! A few years ago, she met a great guy named Jermaine – and now they’re getting hitched! Needless to say, when she asked me to be a bridesmaid in her wedding, I was beyond thrilled.

First up, was the Bridal Shower.

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Which included the requisite bridal shower games. I was tasked with coming up with games, which honestly isn’t my strong suit, but I think it ended up being a fun time, and at the very least, resulted in some great pictures!  There was also a really sweet scrapbook activity put together by Denise.

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And of course we showered our girl with love… and presents!JShower1

Followed by the Bachelorette Party! A fun stay at Revel, in Atlantic City. The Vegas of the East, if you will (ha!). Here are a few of the shots that are tame enough for the blogosphere ;)

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And now it’s nearly time for the wedding itself! Stay tuned for the main event!

Here come the grooms!

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Jon and Ken are one of my favorite couples; they compliment each other perfectly, and you can’t help but have a great time when you’re with them! Their wedding happened to be the first same-sex wedding I’ve attended; of note, the ceremony took place in a church. It was one of the most touching ceremonies I’ve witnessed, and it was 100% them.

The reception that followed was all about celebrating their love! Jon and Ken are known for being the center of their social circle, and have more friends than anyone else I know, so I had high expectations for their wedding. And I was not disappointed!

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In addition to celebrating the newlyweds, it was a great opportunity to catch up with so many of my east coast friends. As you can see, we all had a blast! Cheers to Jon and Ken; wishing you a lifetime of love and happiness!

 

Cook Au Vin: French Cooking Class

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I’m kinda addicted to Gilt City. I get sucked into buying “deals,” and inevitably, end up scrambling to use them before the expiration date. Take for example, the “French cooking class for two” at Cook Au Vin in Bucktown, which I purchased last fall. Full disclosure, I selected it thinking that it would be a fun date activity, but  let’s just say I didn’t meet the right guy to bring to such a class. No worries – I’m never at a loss for fun friends I want to hang out with, so I asked Tamara if she’d be my date, and she kindly obliged. And we had a blast!

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We were greeted by Chef Benoit who was very welcoming and friendly, and invited us to dive in to the spread of fresh bread and cheeses. It was also BYOB, so we also enjoyed some of the wine and champagne that Tamara generously brought along. I knew it was going to be a fun class when I saw just how many bottles our classmates had brought; definitely made for a lively and enthusiastic class!

Once we had our aprons and hats, we spent the next several hours preparing a decadent 4-course French meal, under the guidance of Chef Benoit, who has over 25 years of French culinary experience. It worked out perfectly as everyone gravitated naturally towards certain tasks based upon their skill set.

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Our class was to prepare the Cotillion Menu, which consisted of Rouleau de Saumon a la farce de poire, Tournedeau de dinde sauce Diane, Sweet potato and butternut squash au gratin, and Baked Alaska. Tamara and I were first tasked with chopping veggies and pears. Followed with the more difficult tasks of separating eggs and  preparing the smoked salmon rolls (pardon me, Rouleau de Saumon). There was a fine art to that technique that we may or may not have mastered. However, we did master the fine art of JAZZ HANDS!

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I’m not saying that we were the best chefs in the class, but I think it’s fair to say we were the most entertaining! I really think we lucked out with a fun group. Everyone was really friendly and fun to hang out with. Lots of laughing amidst all the cooking. That’s the secret to great food!

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Although everyone worked on different components of the dishes, working at one large table allowed us to see what was going on in the other stations, and how each dish came together. As it was, the class took 4 hours, so it wouldn’t have been feasible for each person to prepare the entire meal on their own. Great teamwork and bonding! Nothing brings people together like a shared meal.

And it was a feast!

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Everything made that evening was absolutely delicious, and it was all enjoyed while sitting at a long communal table with our new cooking class pals. I may be biased but I will say that we were sitting on the more fun/raucous side of the table! My favorite dishes of the evening were the Butternut Squash and the Baked Alaska, which naturally, we had very little involvement in making! The squash was a nice twist on potato au gratin, and while I’m not a huge merengue fan, the presentation of the dessert was impressive.

A few days after the class, we received the recipes for each dish via email so we could recreate them at home. As someone who has been known to eat cereal for dinner, I don’t think I’ll be spending 4 hours to prepare this menu on a random night. However, Tamara and I did essentially invite everyone in the class to “Friendsgiving,” proclaiming that we would recreate this meal on our own, so we basically have to figure out how to master these creations before November!

If you live in the Chicago area and want to try your hand at French cooking (or want a fun date night activity) stop by Cook Au Vin. The voucher/class was paid for on my own and I did not recieve any compensation for this post; I just really enjoyed the class!