Date night is back after much traveling! I’m so glad we are getting back into a routine. Last Friday hubby text me and told me to be ready by 6 pm to go out on a date. I was pleasantly surprised. This is NOT something my husband does. Yes we go on dates but planned and orchestrated entirely by my husband, never. We went to a cute wine shop in town that was so sophisticated and cultured that for a moment I forgot where I was… For a moment. The place is small and gets crowded easily so they had to make a table in the wine room for us. It was actually very romantic, it was like we had a private room. The food was superb. To our surprise the chef is a military spouse and trained in European cuisine. The staff is very friendly and you can tell the my take pride in their restaurant. We had a wonderful time. I will say that it is a little pricey, but considering that there are very few places with that kind of attention to detail and excellence in their cuisine its a nice place to treat yourself.  Here are our dishes:


They say the way to a man’s heart is through his stomach; and if home is where the heart is, then my home is in the kitchen…

Okay now that I’ve gotten all of my anecdotes and puns out of the way I thought I’d add a new element to the blog. 

I love to cook and I love to eat (thus I devote a lot of posts to weight loss. LOL). One thing I’ve been trying is making healthier spins on some favorites. Not every recipes will be “healthy” per se and I won’t pretend to be a nutritionist. I’m just a gal who loves to cook and who married a man with a military sized appetite. 

Anyone who cooks knows there’s no science to it. I’m an intuitive cook. Sometimes I hit on a win, sometimes not so much. Last night was a win. 

I saw a recipe for Lemon Cream -Sauced Mahi Mahi. I revised it and then  I paired it with fried rice from the night before and cabbage salad. 


Mahi Mahi with Lemon Cream sauce


  • Mahi Mahi fillets
  • Garlic Salt
  • Black Pepper (coursely ground)
  • 4 Tbsp. Lemon Juice (fresh)
  • 1 Tbsp. White Cooking Wine
  • 1 Tbsp. Brandy
  • 3 Tbsp. Cream Cheese (whipped)
  • 2 Tbsp. Cashew Milk
  • 1/4c Butter / 2 pats of Butter
  • 2 Tbsp. Raw Sugar
  • 1/4c water


  1. Note: This recipe cooks very quickly so don’t leave the stove. 
  2. Season fish well with garlic salt and pepper. Preheat skillet to medium heat. Steam fish with half the butter in a pan  with a lid for 10 minutes. Turn pan down very low with lid and with water to keep moist. 
  3. In a seperate skillet: Melt cream cheese on a med-low heat. Add lemon juice, brandy, and white wine. Whisk until blended. Bring to a slight boil and immediately reduce the heat to a simmer.  The cream cheese may appear to curdle this is normal. Add a splash of cashew milk (about 2 Tbsp.). Add remainder of butter and whisk well. Then add sugar while stirring.  Simmer about 5 minutes to allow the sauce to thicken. Remove from heat and allow it to sit 5 more minutes. Sauce should appear eggshell white with a creamy consistency. 
  4. Serve over fish and garnish with herbs or sliced peppers. 


I loved this fish recipe it was just the right amount of sweet and savory. Typically I pair some kind of mango chutney with Mahi Mahi but I wanted a change and I’m so glad I tried something new. I think this would be a great recipe for a dinner party. 

My husband loves it as well. He let out an audible “mmm” when he tasted it. 

Side Dishes

Red Cabbage Salad with Mango Vinagrette



  • 4c Red Cabbage (Half a head)
  • 1c Asian Pear
  • 1/2c Carrot (finely diced)
  • 1/4c Celery
  • 1/4c Bell Pepper
  • 1 Tbsp Lemon Concentrate
  • 1/4c almonds (chopped)
  • 1 Tbsp dried cranberries (optional)


  • 1/4c Mango (diced)
  • 1/8c water
  • 2 Tbsp Honey
  • 6 Tbsp Apple Cider Vinegar
  • 2 Tbsp Extra Virgin Olive Oil


  1. In a large bowl mix salad ingredients with lemon juice. 
  2. Add craisins and nuts. 
  3. In a blender purée the mango with water. Then combine the purée with the othe Vinagrette ingredients in a smaller bowl.
  4. Toss salad and Vinagrette together. Chill until ready to serve. 


This salad is a spinoff of a recipe I found on Pinterest. The original recipe called for apple as instead of Asian pears. Since I’m in Korea right now Asian Pears are far more plentiful than apples. 

I really enjoyed this salad. It was very refreshing. I thought it paired well with the citrus flavor of the fish sauce. I had a first mind to skip the craisins and only have fresh produce in the salad. I now think that would have been the best. The salad is crunchy and full of flavor. The addition of dried fruit takes from the fresh taste. 

My husband also preferred the salad without cranberries and I’m glad I only put a small amount. However I wouldn’t discourage others from adding the craisins, we love them, it’s just our preference with this very specific pairing. My husband also said to lose the almonds.  I have to veto him on this one. They added a healthy crunch to the salad. He’s just adjusting to a healthier lifestyle. 

Restaurant-Style Vegetable Fried Rice


  • 2 Tbsp Green onions (diced)
  • 1/2 c Red and Yellow Peppers
  • 1 c Frozen Peas and Carrots
  • 2 Eggs (beaten or whisked)
  • 2 Tbsp Soy Sauce
  • 2 Tbsp Honey
  • 3 c Brown Rice (cooked and refrigerated)
  • 2 Tbsp Olive Oil
  • Cooked chicken, beef, or shrimp (optional)


  1. Preheat a skillet to medium heat and add olive oil. Cook onion and peppers until tender and then add frozen vegetables. Push to the side or in a seperate skillet cook the eggs. Allow them to cook almost all the way through before dicing. Once cooked mix with vegetables. Add rice to the mixture, stirring occasionally until heated through. 
  2. In a small sauce pan combine soy sauce and honey.  Cook on medium-low heat until honey has completely dissolved. 
  3. Remove both pans from hat and pour soy-honey sauce over the fried rice. 


We love fried rice. My favorite was from this restaurant that had the slightest sweet flavor to offset the saltiness of the soy sauce. I can’t even remember the restaurant name anymore but I have found that adding a bit of honey provides a very similar flavor. I often add chicken apple sausage to the mix and it is divine. I didn’t this time and I’m glad because it would have destracted from the fish.  

Wedding Venue – American Lake Conference Center

When we first started wedding planning, I was still overseas with my fiancé so my wonderful parents did some scouting for me. The two places we narrowed in on were the Thornewood Castle and the American Lake Conference Center. Both formidable options depending on your priority of wants and needs for your wedding.

Thornewood Castle (Runner Up)

I loved the Thornewood Castle instantly. I knew pretty immediately that I wanted a European themed wedding. The Thornewood Castle was designed to emulate a small European castle. It had old world charm and amazing grounds. I could see the photos that would come from this place. However, it was extremely expensive and offered little more than ambiance and a venue for the price. My priority for my wedding was for my fiancé and I to be able to pay for our wedding in cash. I didn’t want the bills from our wedding day to go any further than the actual day. After all we also had a marriage to plan for. It was an extremely difficult decision, but I passed on the Thornewood Castle. Rachel the proprietor was extremely sweet but shrewd business woman. We were originally considering a very short engagement. Even shorter than the six months that we eventually went with. Rachel really wanted to fill the one weekend she had available at the Castle. So she offered us an amazing deal and even a military discount on top of that. However, I would have 8 weeks to plan my wedding. That was probably the main reason I passed. I wanted to consider the Castle for our June date, but it felt like as soon as I passed on the winter date, Rachel was no longer interested. It was hard to get a hold of her. Later I wanted to spend our mini-honeymoon there, because it also serves as a bed and breakfast. However, we could never get a return call again and she was always too busy to answer. I felt pretty disappointed by this because I really liked Rachel and the Castle. However, for one day, nothing included it would have cost me a little more than $6000. I couldn’t justify that on a military bride budget. So we went with option two: the American Lake Conference Center.

Photo Credit:

American Lake Conference Center (Final Choice)

Photo credit: (I’ll put up better images once my professional photography is ready)

I was a little skeptical when my parents suggest the American Lake Conference Center. Military facilities aren’t always as nice as you’d want them. However, this newly remodeled venue was actually a pleasant surprise. The grounds were kept beautifully, its right on the water, right by the security gate, so guest could easily find it. An added bonus was that they had their own baker, caterer, and could help with civilian guest getting on the military base. Plus once you committed to a certain amount of catering about the amount to feed 60 people the building rental fee was waived. I am still pleased with my decision, but we did have some hiccups. I found the hard way, that when working with government workers there is a certain apathy among some people. So before I criticize I will say what went well: Ben the facility manager is a very nice young man. You can tell he really is trying to make his guest happy. However, I don’t know if he has the complete authority over his staff. Sometimes it seems like they just did their own thing. He promised us things, they did what they wanted. Also, the grounds at venue are gorgeous and well-kempt. They lend themselves to amazing pictures. The food was amazing and I am so glad, I made my bridal party fix me a plate to go so I could have seconds! LOL.

First, I called and confirmed that I would be at the venue early to set up and start decorations (I had a day of coordinator, but that’s a different review). The venue only allows you twelve hours to set up, host your event and take down. I couldn’t come the night before because they had another group. They didn’t want to allow me a rehearsal time, which I thought should have been included. It was only until the week of that I could confirm my rehearsal because the conference center staff made it clear they would bump me for another event.

For the wedding day, I confirmed the time twice. However, due to security glitches working with the base, I didn’t arrive until almost an hour and half after my scheduled time. They still were not ready for me to start setting up. There was bird feces all over the gazebo area where I was to hold my ceremony. There were still deflated balloons and decorations from the previous event. In the bridal suite the trash had not even been dumped from the night before and there was a dirty diaper in the garbage. My tables had not been set up yet and I had to give instructions to the custodial staff about what I needed for my self-station and other extras, such as mics and a communion table, we’d previously arranged at our final meeting with Ben. So I had to wait to even begin setting up and I still had to get dressed for my wedding pictures.

At the ceremony we were supposed to have mics provided for the officiate, and one for my husband and I to share and one for the musician. Only one mic was provided for everyone. So unfortunately a lot of people did not hear the ceremony. A podium was also to be provided where we could plug in speakers, again, it was not, but without the mics it didn’t matter.

After the wedding we had a receiving line in the glass covered hallway. The day was hot so it ended up being like a greenhouse in there. I remember asking at an earlier meeting about the room in hot weather. I was told on hot days the overhead shades were pulled to keep the room cool, they were not. It was extremely hot!

At the reception the salad was brought to the table before an announcement of food was made. They also continued to serve while we blessed the food, which I just thought was absolutely rude. We had a lot of people who came without RSVPing so we didn’t have enough salad. That wasn’t the venues fault. However when we asked to quickly have extra tables set up they made a big deal about it. They eventually did it, but not without complaint. Then staff members informed guests that we didn’t have enough food because we as the bridal party didn’t buy enough for the number of people there. I thought that was wholly unprofessional and rude, because they made my guest feel unwelcome.

Finally, the cherry on the cake, was the cake. I’d worked extensively with the previous baker who’d trained in Europe. She was a major reason why I signed with this venue. I love her. She promised me a cake shaped like an Eiffel Tower, I was so excited. The she PCSed. I didn’t even know civilian workers with the military could do that! So military brides beware! You could end up with a completely different staff than the one you started with. I did. The chef, the facility manager, and the baker all were new because my wedding occurred during PCS season. I was nervous when it happened but assured everything would be as promised. I even separately confirmed with the new baker, Nicole about my Eiffel Tower cake. She assured me over and over she could do it. On the day of the wedding, if I wasn’t in the middle of my reception I would have cried. I asked for a cake shaped like an Eiffel Tower, instead I received a rectangle cake with an Eiffel Tower cookie placed on top! I was furious and embarrassed. The worse part was Nicole was completely unapologetic and defensive. She said she’d take 50% off, which I found to be insulting (Ben later compensated the entire cake). I told her, I would have rather had a nice cake that looked completely different than the joke she presented. It was ugly. She didn’t even attempt the color scheme of the wedding, it was grey. Who orders a grey cake! Not only that it was disgusting. The cake was supposed to be a real red velvet cake with cream cheese frosting. Nope… it was a white cake died red and no cream cheese. It didn’t even taste good and only the top was red velvet, the rest seemed like just a white cake they had left over. I eventually walked away from Nicole with my mouth agape because she was so blatantly rude. They didn’t make enough of the European pastries I wanted because one in particular, the Dutch butter cake, she didn’t have recipe for. She was supposed to increase the number of the scones and macroons and confirm the number. She never called again and I had so much on my plate I forgot to call her. Even for the number we confirmed we didn’t have enough pastries. Nicole’s response at the reception was to shrug her shoulders, stating, quote, “I made my one phone call.” Meaning when she called me back after I reached out to her. She had no desire or care to do her job well. If I hadn’t asked to speak to her she would have never made contact. The first baker I dealt with was very involved and wanted me to have just what I wanted on my day. She offered suggestions and asked questions. She promised to do a trial run on the cake and let me know if things didn’t work out. It looked like Nicole slapped together my cake in a hurry. It was utterly disappointing and insulting. She was so rude and disrespectful that the other staff went out of their way to cater to me. They knew I was devastated and I even had a couple apologize to me after the wedding. They knew it was not my dream day, in part because of so many missteps by the venue.

This is what I was promised, complete with my new surname in the banner and glitter to resemble the Eiffel Tower at night:

Eiffel Tower cake

This is what I was given, complete with Nicole’s bitchy attitude:

Eiffel Tower cake at wedding (I don’t have many pictures of the cake because I thought it was hideous)

I will say, many of their failures could have been corrected had I had a good day of coordinator, who knew what was supposed to be happening, but that is another review… (I have to go cry now, after reminiscing about Nicole’s attitude)

{June 16, 2015}   Birthday Bash: All Week Long!

It’s my birthday ya’ll! What’s the best thing about a birthday? Presents! And why are presents amazing… because they’re free! Duh! Ok. So in keeping with the original theme of this blog (that I have never really stuck to) I thought I’d write about how I spend my birthday week. Since I am on a perpetual diet, I’m not going to lie, I eat my way through the week. Yep and I don’t feel bad. It’s my freebie, literally. See, I have become the queen of free birthday stuff. A good birthday year sees me receiving a free item everyday of the week leading up to my birthday. So I thought I’d share some of my favorite freebies with you. This is not a conclusive list, but an idea of my week so you can build your own based on the restaurants in your area. Also visit: to get your list started.  I already had most of these through trial an error, but they gave me some great ideas. Also, I should note that this does not include all of the shopping discounts I utilize.

My Birthday Bash Week-Long Food Dash

Sunday: IHOP – Free Rootie Tootie combo. I don’t like all of the syrupy fruit so my Ihop let me switch with their nut n’ grain pancakes and they allowed me to choose turkey bacon at no additional charge. *Make sure you still tip the waitress. 🙂

Monday: Red Robin – Free gourmet burger and bottemless fries. Talk about yummy! I went with the Prime Chophouse. Yum, yum, yum, yum, yum… It wasn’t free, but I also had the Khalua Jamaican Shake… Heaven! If you want to maximize your experience dine-in. You’ll get the bottom-less fries, plus a free sundae with singing. LOL.

Tuesday: Krispy Kreme – Free donut and coffee to start your day off right. The Gym! Then free scoop from Baskin Robins.

Wednesday: Buffalo Wild Wings – Free snack size order of wings. I have no problem eating alone, so their dine-in policy doesn’t bother me, all though I think its designed to force you to bring paying friends. Oops. LOL.

Thursday: Dairy Queen – BOGO on a medium blizzard. I don’t typically like any of the promotions where I have to pay, but you can freeze one blizzard or give it away so I don’t think its a total loss.

Friday: Johnny’s Seafood (local restaurant) – Free desert. I love Johnny’s and I love their happy hour. This is one of the few places I’m willing to pay. I have however, gone in and ordered my free desert and never felt the pressure to buy anything. I like them because the deserts are huge and definitely meant for sharing so you don’t have to eat alone. This year I’ve added Duke’s Chowder House (another local restaurant nearby) so I’ll have a free dinner there followed by desert at Johnny’s. Yay!

Saturday: Denny’s – Free Grand Slam – They only honor the free grand slam on your actual birthday, so bring ID!

Sunday: Pacific Grill (local restaurant) – $25 certificate – I like this place because the happy hour is all day. So I will do a Sunday brunch with my mom. The prices are reasonable enough that I can get away with paying for both of us, minus drinks with the certificate.

Monday: BONUS – I received a gift card to a swanky reservation only speak easy called Maxwell’s. They technically don’t offer anything free on your birthday but its free to me!

Note: I have added a few local restaurants. I find they offer the best deals and I encourage you to look into local restaurants or chains in your area. I have done this in Chicago and Columbus, OH and it has worked out marvelously. When I was in Ohio (which considers itself the restaurant capitol of the Midwest, some say the US) I was able to go a two-week period of time where I ate at least once a day for free, no BOGO’s.

{September 28, 2014}   Europe Vacay: Paris 3
Day 3 in Paris, we woke up a little later. At this point the walking was starting to get to us a bit. We were easily walking 7-10 miles a day. DJ started tracking our calories burned as well. On Day two we burned 2,879 calories and today we would eventually burn more than 3,000 calories just walking.
We started the day off with the English breakfast. Mine had a three fired eggs, ham thinly sliced, croissant, buttered French bread, café au lait, and orange juice. All for a little less than 9 Euros or 6 dollars. It was great. I don’t normally eat a lot of ham, but in France ham is the meat of choice. They have no concept of being a vegan. You might find a vegetarian dish but a dish without cheese or butter, that’s probably not going to happen.
Today, we visited Cathedral Notre Dame de Paris (Cathedral of our lady in Paris), one of the most famous churches in the world. Mostly for the story of the Hunchback of Notre Dam. I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but the story is entirely fiction… I know, I know, I was crushed! Apparently, an enthusiast of French Gothic construction sought to stave off the destruction of such relics by bringing mass awareness to their importance. The church was in ruins and had been largely forgotten by the French people. However when the book became a success people began to revisit Notre Dame and it was restored to its original glory. The church was designed as a massive structure for the elite and aristocrats to worship, but also a place for the poor and peasants to receive service from priests and chaplains during the week. Construction began in 1170 and continued until 1250, but the embellishments on the building continued until 1345. Nearly two centuries of building! Again… foresight.
Every detail is meant to tell the stories of the Bibles. There are massive windows, each pane in the window has a scene from the Bible . The south window represents the old testament. The north window represents the new testament with Christ’s resurrection as the center piece. There are also statutes to martyr’s. Among the most famous is Joan of Arc. Killed by the Catholic church because she opposed France as a calling from God, then martyred by the Catholic church because of her popularity among the people. Even today, people pay 2 euros to pray before her likeness, and that of any other saint.
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It is remarkable the amount of detail that is put into the structure. Imagine what man could do if we put our powers for forethought and creativity to good use, not that of controlling the masses. There was a Saint William who believed in conjugal reunification. I’m not clear on the particulars, but I think that he believed that a wife would be reunited upon death with her husband, although his chapel statute makes it appear as if she should reunited with him physically in this life. Anyway, the people believe what they want to believe.
There were massive amounts of people at the Cathedral. It is still an active church, so people were also there praying and worshiping. It was very solemn and you could see the deep belief some people had. It made me a little uncomfortable to watch them in such a private moment.
Afterwards, DJ and I sat at a park behind the cathedral for awhile. Today, we engaged in walking tour that I found online from Rick Steve’s a famous travel writer who lives in Washington state. We met a very nice couple from Boston, I should have taken a picture of them but I did not. Then we crossed the Seinne to the island that makes up part of Paris. This is where the Latin quarter is located. Tons of back alley deals and steals right behind high end merchants. We also passed the famous lock bridge, where millions of people have declared their love and their presence by affixing a lock to the bridge crossing the Seinne.
I know it seems like we do a lot of strolling, but honestly Paris is such a place that you really need to take it all in. Plus, as you travel you find unexpected performances and art exhibits that are there just for the day or the week. Everyday, is an opportunity for art in Paris. We found a gold plated mime/statute which was pretty interesting. People make money just doing crazy artistic things in Paris.
We then made our way to the Palais of Justice, where the courts are held. Maybe its the attorney in me, but I have always found courthouse to be majestic places. This particular court house is connected to a chapel that is centuries old and is a historical landmark. We then found the café where the lawyers hang out and the legal book store all in one area. In many ways Paris is like New York in that it is divided in very specific areas and neighborhoods. New York is divided by race, Paris is divided by status. All the lawyers in one area, aristocrats in another. fashionistas another, etc.
From there we strolled by the Seinne, it is THE daytime romance spot in Paris. Paris is very affectionate, it is nothing to see people in extensive (and sometimes excessive) public displays of affection. DJ and I caught the bug too, we held hands almost ALL day LOL! On the Seinne you will see groups of every kind, almost like a college activity fair. We saw lovers sharing wine, lovers quarreling, students reading, Buddist singing, jugglers juggling, couples snuggling… we saw actors performing, people dreaming, keep walking down the Seinne and you will see it all.

{September 17, 2014}   Europe Vacay: Paris 1
Paris Day 1 has not disappointed!  DJ told me we need to wake up at 4 am to make our train. I was nervous I would run late, so I woke up at 3 am. That is when I learned that our train didn’t leave until 7:30! So that 6 am time he kept telling me was when he wanted to leave the house, for the train station 15 minutes down the road! 😦 You know I hate waking up early for no reason. But it worked out, we had breakfast and coffee and did devotion while we waited for the train. The train was so nice and our stewardess spoke perfect English so that was very helpful because there were some confusing moments. DJ purchased first class tickets and boy was it worth it. Plush seats, breakfast and Wi-Fi. Not just any breakfast a breakfast with crepes, croissant, yogurt, fruit, coffee and juice. I couldn’t believe how much they gave us for a two hour trip. It was gorgeous seeing the country side. The train runs so fast I couldn’t get good pics, we were on a bullet train.
Once in Paris we walked to our hotel. I was a little nervous because we had to walk through the red light district. I kid you not 18 sex shops in about 10 minutes of walking, I got scared and stopped counting after that. Well come to find out we were in the famous or infamous Moulin Rouge area. Luckily that is not where our hotel was. It actually was nicer than they showed on the website. Its painted all sorts of crazy colors and the lighting in the pictures makes it look like a 70s porn set. But in person it just looks like an eccentric French place. There’s nothing special, but it has a tv, wifi, a large bathroom (for European standards) and its CLEAN!  Plus it has an amazing view of the city and the Jazz area is below, so there is music and people all the time. I love it for people watching.
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Our check in wasn’t until 2pm and we arrived at 10 or 11 am so we checked our bags and walked the area. We found this really old church on a hill. Its huge and looks like a museum except they still have live mass there and it was going on while we were there. It was very beautiful. When you turn around you can view the city of Paris from the heights of where the church is. So we took some nice pics there. Then we wandered some residential neighborhoods and discovered that though Paris doesn’t have a lot of greenery they have created man made parks that are beautiful and each one unique, specifically for the purpose of sitting and enjoying the scenery. The architecture is beautiful, you can walk around all day taking pictures.
For lunch we found this restaurant, a local place. No one spoke English but they were very nice, so we played charades and order a fantastic dinner that came with dessert for the equivalent of about $15 a person. That’s a very good price for a Paris lunch.
After checking in, we played around with the train system, going to different stops and getting a feel for things. Then decided just to find our way to the Eiffel tower. We planned on actually going on another day. I read that if you go before 9 am or right after lunch you can avoid lines. We ended up there about 3pm and because it was also a Monday (Mondays are like Sundays in that many businesses are not open) there was no line, we walked right up to the ticket counter. Then we climbed the Eiffel Tower! That’s right I climbed the Eiffel Tower stairs all the way up, no elevator! That was my workout for the day. It was crazy, but I must be in better shape than I used to be because, I was winded and tired, but not dying like other times when DJ has had me do hills that were much smaller.
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There is a park right behind the Eiffel Tower where couples sit and lounge and read or drink wine. So we relaxed their after going up and down the Eiffel Tower. I can’t explain how amazing the Eiffel Tower was. Its much bigger than I thought and completely dwarfs the Space Needle. I actually got tears in my eyes looking at it, it puts you in awe that in 1889 they built this amazing structure that is still here without the use of modern technology. We wandered some more and then decided to call it an “early” night, as in 8 or 9pm. Parisians are out extremely late.
We went to dinner at the café right next door. They speak perfect English so that was helpful. I am actually picking up a few words of French, so that’s cool. Anyway, dinner was so-so there but the Tiramisu is the best I have ever had in my life. This is authentic Tiramisu! I loved it.

So it’s was my second date tonight. I went out with O. O is 25, works in marketing, he enjoys sporting events, likes to drink wine with friends and entertain friends at his apartment… That’s what they said in their description. Brown hair brown eyes, that was pretty much the only accurate part of their description. Let’s start from the beginning…

I was the first to arrive again. I beginning to feel thirsty, but I we less than 10 minutes early so I don’t feel too bad. I ordered my drink and positioned myself so that I could see the street through the window and the entrance through the bar mirror at the same time. My drink was just arriving when I say a brown haired brown eyed white guy rounding the bend. I knew instantly it was him but I didn’t turn around. I scanned him through the mirror. Thin lips, thin nose and a jutted out chin. Not my version of attractive but not hideous. He didn’t bother to dress for the occasion, he wore jeans and didn’t bother to dress for the occasion. I reminded myself that I am opening myself to new opportunities and I am not here to judge. So I watch as he checks in with the hostess, confirming his identity. She points in my direction, there was some whispering between the two, probably him asking which one I was. He looks at the two blondes sitting a couple seats away. She points again. He looks at three brunettes across the bar from me. Finally she just walks up to me and taps me on the shoulder…They obviously didn’t tell him I was black. I’ll go into my rant about that later.

Anyway we shake hands and he sits beside me at the bar and orders a beer. I ask if he wants to grab a table he says no the bar is fine. We aren’t staying for dinner that much is clear. Instantly I am glad I gave in and ordered food before getting dressed. Instantly I’m regret the fact that it was Chinese. I’m fine at the moment but I will be hungry again. The bar tender asks if we would like to order dinner, I didn’t even have time to open my mouth, an instantaneous “no” followed by a “I mean if that’s okay with you, I had a large lunch.” Its fine with me, his nervous mannerism is making me uncomfortable.

We made small talk while we finished our drinks. I stopped being lady like at the end and just gulped the last of my martini. I just wanted to be done. Here’s what I learned…He asked a few polite questions in the beginning but became fascinated by the poker game on television. When I asked if he played poker, I mean he couldn’t take his eyes off the screen, he answered no he’d never played. So anyways I learned that he grew up in a small town about an hour and a half from the capital. He came to this city for college and never left. He works in marketing, meaning he makes pens and caps for franchises. He likes his job because no one bothers him. He doesn’t like sports that much even though he went to a fan fanatic school. I knew more about hockey than he did. He likes beer not wine. He’s not ready to settle down. He literally has left the state about three times in his life. And he isn’t bothered by that, he may want to visit some islands and definitely Ireland because they drink a lot of beer. He’d have to get used to the cultural differences considering they drink there beer room temperature. He wants a dog one day.
By then he finished his beer and had to go so he could take his brother to the airport! We got separate checks and he left me at the valet stand, didn’t bother to wait for me to get my car. Well don’t I feel like every awkward date cliche in the book. I only partially blame him and almost not at all because he tried to be polite… Well at least not openly offending, but he’d checked out the moment he saw me. I arrived at 7:08, our date was scheduled for 7:15, by 8:10 I’d retrieved my car from valet and was at the ice cream shop a mile away, where I sit writing…

Now here is the rant…

First, let me state that I am not the gal who yells prejudice or racism any time a white guy doesn’t pay attention to me. I personally think that if I am going to spend any significant time in my personal life with someone I don’t have to be politically correct. I do think that by dancing around the subject of race… This is me giving them the benefit of the doubt. But really I think they were just trying to feel their quota of dates for me. I say me because he’d on I think four dates and we started around the same time. O is my second…

Anyway, I think that by avoiding clarification on his desired race they put both of us in an awkward situation. Me more so than anyone because I had to look at the expression of mortification that was supposed to be behind my back. But also him because… Well I’m sure it was uncomfortable for him but I’m having hard time feeling for him right now.

I’m furious because when I first started the owner said:

If I don’t think I have guys for you I won’t take your business.

She also told me she had several guys in mind but besides L, I can’t Imagine what is going through her head. First there was L, we weren’t a match but I could see how we MAYBE had things in common on paper. Then there was a man who I turned down. We didn’t appear to have anything in common and he was 15 years my senior. Now I’ve listed in another post about how broad I made my specifications as far as physical features. So it aggravates me when they don’t stick to them. Insult to injury is when there is nothing in common as far as listed personality traits or desired traits in your match. I think the worst part is when the coordinator tried to make me feel bad about turning down the date. I told her I left certain characteristics broad for a reason. For instance I am open to 10 years older than me. L was 11 years my senior, I let that slide. Fifteen years is pushing it. I told her I want something in common with these guys, I’m not asking for an instant love connection but I am interested in something serious. I have no interest in someone who could theoretically be my father. To this the coordinator replies snippety-like,

Well, its only 15 years, so he definitely couldn’t be your father.

Uh, perhaps you don’t watch the news but 15 years old is old enough to sire a child.

By the way the only reason I was matched with him was after 2 weeks of waiting after the first date I called and inquired about what exactly is involved in their “matching process” that it takes 2 weeks especially when the owner had “several guys” in mind. Of course when I called she was “just looking at my file” and up popped granddad for a date.

Now with this guy, O, I specifically asked two questions:
1) Is he interested in something serious?
2) Is he okay with dating an African American?

To both questions an emphatic yes. So now I have to tell them how I feel they are dishonest and what a humiliating position they put me in. I bet you ten bucks she will get an attitude…

Stay tuned!

It’s been awhile, but I have been busy on the search for amazing and fun deals in Chicago. One thing that is essential is that you must travel off the beaten path, with caution, in Chicago. Downtown is priced for the business people and the tourist. But do not fear, your Sadity Girl is hard at work for you.

To help me get started I bought a book called, Not for Tourists Guide to Chicago. The guide is a part of a series of books purportedly written by lifelong residents of the particular city featured in a guide. I felt like the book was a good starting point, mostly because of a line that echoed my feelings about one of the greatest tourist traps in Chicago, the Navy Pier. Basically they call the Navy Pier out for what it is, overrated and overpriced. However, I would still take this series of guides with a grain of salt. When they talk about lifelong residents, it seems to me that they mean white urban professionals (or more appropriately suburban professionals). I’ve noticed that when it comes to the some of the rich cultured and ethnic neighborhoods, they only feature establishments that have been featured on television or that are well-known, which goes against the premise of the book. It also leads me to believe that they have no actual knowledge of those areas, and perhaps have did not extend their research to areas in which they were not the majority. If this is true it is quite unfortunate, because Chicago is such an ethnically rich city, built off of immigrants from around the world.

Now that I have railed about a tunneled view of the city, I will fully disclose my own limitations. I am in the city for several weeks working. I will try to explore as much as possible, not as a tourist but perhaps as a future resident. With that said, the area I am staying in is the Northwest part of the city. I personally love it and find it very welcoming. It’s close enough to the Loop (downtown Chicago – where the El train system forms a loop), yet far enough to get a feel for the more laid back part of the city. Thus, much of my discussions may feature the Northern and Western parts of Chicago.

The Irving Park area of Chicago is wonderful. I walk my dog everywhere in this part of town, so that I can find new hole-in-the-wall places to patronize. Sunday, I found a cute little breakfast spot. The West River Cafe, on the corner of Kedzie and Montrose. I was attracted to this place because every time I walk by on the weekends, its crowded. Let’s face when it comes to food places, you want to go to the crowded place, because that is typically the best testament to how good the place is. Well, following the crowd paid off. I love a good deal and this was it. A good deal doesn’t always mean cheap, but in this case it did. It meant cheap, filling, and delicious.

First, let me state that the service was great. I am big on service. I used to work in the restaurant industry and I prided myself on my demeanor with customers, whether I was getting a tip or not. Now days it feels like waitstaff forget that the tip is optional. Anyways, I had to wait probably ten minutes, but it wasn’t bad. What impressed me was this. When I saw small table open up, I sat there because I was by myself. I saw them clearing a booth but I didn’t want to take that space just in case a larger group came. I gentleman I presume to be the manager and perhaps the proprietor cleared the booth and just then a larger group came in. They were ready to jump at the empty booth. The gentleman had them wait looking for me, because he knew I was next. It was only when he realized I had found a seat that he let them sit at the booth. I appreciated that because sometimes it big busy cities, the group that seems like they will the most gets the better service.  In addition, the small staff was clearly overwhelmed, but they were very friendly and nice.

My meal was also delicious and delivered very quickly. I ordered the chopped beef steak with eggs, fruit and toast. I brought a book in preparation for a wait; I only read about two pages. The food was piping hot, really good comfort food. I meant to take a picture, but I was hungry and forgot. My bad J The serving sizes were generous; I had to take a box to go for about half of it. The fruit serving was ample which is not common at a restaurant. Typically a serving of fruit is a small cup. I received a bowl with a mixture of melons. I also had the house frappe, which as a Starbuck’s junkie, I must say was pretty good. It’s nothing like Starbuck’s, think more of a frothy iced coffee, versus the shake-like drinks served at Starbuck’s. Unlike Starbuckie’s you don’t need to add an extra shot of espresso for some kick. This thing came with plenty of kick on the first time out. If you are like me and you like coffee drinks that have a purpose then you will think that this frappe is worth the $1.95(yep, $1.95- I’m already craving another one). The cost of the whole meal without tip was $11 and trust me, they deserve the tip.

et cetera