Thursday, February 26, 2009

Chicago - Day 4

I spent pretty much all day Wednesday walking around the Bucktown/Wicker Park area. It was recommended to me by Nate and Linds M. the night before as a neighborhood I should check out.

You wouldn't probably think of going there from the looks of the train stop - it kind of looks like the sketchy hood. But remarkably, it isn't. It was very trendy in a boutique-y/artsy kind of way. For the D.C., readers I would say it looked like Adams Morgan with a U St./14th St. feel. I really wish I had been dressed a little funkier - you know, to fit in - but I'm telling myself that cowboy boots can be different and alternative too. I certainly got a lot of looks, anyway.

According to a Chicago magazine (of course I picked one up) the area is characterized by, "...trendy boutiques, coffeehouses, restaurants, galleries, nightclubs and storefront theaters are centered around the intersection of Damen, Milwaukee, and North avenues, and create a vibrant atmosphere."

I can see that.

But not until I walked the right way down those streets! After walking several blocks trying to figure out the area, I decided to turn around because it looked pretty bland. I thought, surely this can't be what everyone wanted me to see! So, I consulted some Starbucks barristas, who were helpful in giving me a lay of the land.

There were definitely lots of fun, unique boutiques, funky little stores and coffeeshops, and even an Urban Outfitters and a couple other more mainstream stores. Mostly, however, it was all pretty original.

I settled in at the Gallery Cafe, a cute little coffeeshop, for a latte and some free Internet - something the Marriott O'Hare didn't offer. Hungry, I went on a hunt for some food - specifically sushi. I wanted really, really awesome sushi. A shopkeeper told me to try Coast, also written up in this little magazine, but after walking forever trying to find it (which I eventually did and it was closed) I came back to the streets I "knew."

I decided to try the Earwax Cafe (that's for you Jonna... haha), which had a really fun vibe - like an old sideshow circus kind of vibe. I ordered the Earwax Garbage Salad and settled in.

I intended to go back to the hotel, change, and make my way downtown for dinner, but decided to hang out at the hotel bar and do some work. It is, afterall, a work trip, right?

The Earwax...

An interesting wall hanging...

The booths, which I think are fun. I was in a little side table though...

There were lots of other delicious things in here like dried cranberries, sunflower seeds and blue cheese. Who knew garbage could be so tasty?

Chicago - Day 3

After a second, and final day of social media “conferencing,” I went downtown again to meet up with a couple other friends who live here: Nate, who I went to college with, and Lindsay M., who I worked with at the PR firm in D.C.

It was so great to see them both! And it was fun to introduce these people from two different times in my life. I love doing that!

We went to a place called the Kerryman Pub, a giant pub downtown. We had a beer and split a couple bottles of wine since it was ½ price bottle night – another thing I love! We all had a really great time getting caught up. Nate filled me in on his job, told me about his wife, and pumped me for info on all our college friends. Linds M. gave me all the juicy details about our terrible firm in D.C., how she left, who all left after us, and what was happening there now. The awfulness of the place was really what fueled my decision to leave D.C., and I took an evil delight in hearing how the, ahem, poop, had hit the fan.

Then Nate and I left to find his wife who was having dinner with a girlfriend. She was awesome and I’m hoping we’ll all get to hang out again while I’m here.

Stupidly, I didn’t take any pictures. Not one! We were too busy talking for me to think of it, I guess! I’ll make up for it if we all go out again this week.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Chicago - Day 2

I was in a really good social media conference all day Monday and Tuesday at a hotel out by O'Hare.

Let me just tell you: there is NOTHING going on at O'Hare.

So, after a very informative day of "conferencing" I headed downtown to meet up with Tyler. Oh yeah. He's here. Where is Tyler not?

I took myself to the nearest Metro, subway, El - whatever it's called here - stop, and tried to figure out how to meet Tyler downtown. I've always heard D.C.'s and Chicago's train systems are supposed to be "sisters" to one another, and I could see that. They're very similar. However, I really believe D.C.'s metro is nicer and has a broader range throughout the city. The cars on the Chicago train remind me of the NYC subway and there is really only one hub here to change trains and go to other parts of town.

I finally found Tyler and we went to the Signature Room at the Hancock Building for a drink. It's one of those sky lounges with a 360 degree view of the city. It was touristy, and amazing! I secretly love sky lounges. Being back in the "big city" looking out at all the lights and...cityness... going on around me made me want a martini. It was worth it - all $12 of it. It did, however, make me miss one thing about smaller towns - cheap drinks.

From the sky lounge, Tyler and I embarked on an ultimately fruitless quest to find a recommended blues bar. I love blues. I wanted blues. And if I'm going to be in a famed blues city I want to hear it.

We ultimately landed at a blues bar and restaurant and enjoyed some good food and an AMAZING band. A-maz-ing.

Then I made my way back to BFE Chicago for some rest before my final conference day.

Heading in...

The view...!

The blues bar we finally landed at...

In blues country...!

I had jambalaya (left) and Tyler had stuffed catfish...delish!

The rockin' band!!

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Chicago - Arrival

I left on Sunday for Chicago on a 10-day work trip.

I flew out of the Cheyenne airport on Sunday for the first time in years. Those planes are kind of fun because I feel sort of "outbackish," but really they're a little unpleasant. I'm not a fan of turbulance (who is?!) and there's a lot of it on those little 20-seaters.

After a nice delay in Denver I finally landed at O'Hare. Generally, I am running through this airport and have never had to exit it. So, when I had to find my hotel shuttle I was a little lost. It just wasn't completely clear. So, I asked a couple cops by the door I thought I was supposed to go out of. The cop who answered was very helpful and not without some quirky humor. He seemed tickled that I was from Wyoming, asked if I was a cowgirl (I was wearing my boots so I showed them off), and then handed me a "get out of jail free" card that was apparently only good if I got in trouble in Chicago. How did he know?

I was/am so excited to be in the "big city." I have mixed emotions about going to a new city. It's so fun to discover a new place, but I like to be the person who KNOWS a place. It's just frustrating to me when I don't already know all the cool places to go. Fortunately, I know a few people here and they're very good travel guides and hosts.

The view out my plane window on my way from Cheyenne...

Sunday, February 22, 2009

The Windy City

I'm off to the other Windy City of Chicago for 10 days for work.

Look for updates and pics from the Heartland!

Friday, February 20, 2009

The ol' run around

All of last night I dreamed it was the day of the 1/2 marathon and I was trying to get to the start line. I was late for the race and, oh yeah, completely unprepared. The max I had run to prepare was only six miles!

Ok. That is more of a nightmare than a dream!

I think I'm starting to stress out about my training for it haven't really been. Sure, I've been getting some runs in, but not the amount of days or miles I think I should be.

This last week I could hardly seem to get out of bed to get going! And the few times I have actually gone I mentally check out and end up walking the rest of the way home.

I'm going to have to turn this around.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Here, there, everywhere. And now here.

I've been super busy these days...just the way I like it.

I'm a little out of practice though because, well, things mostly move at a different pace out here.

But for the past two weeks I've been swamped at work and I've had something going on every night except one.

There is no letting up in the foreseeable future either. I'll finish up the work week with a column and a stack of press releases to write and any number of articles to edit. I'll also have a friend in town, and a quick over and back to Laramie to check out a baby shower venue. All this before I leave on Sunday for 10 days in Chicago on two back-to-back work conferences! So...figure in some packing...time to sleep (wait, what?) out...

Ahhh. The refreshing normalcy of it all!

The only thing about all this hub-bub is that I've not had any time to really comprehend that it was exactly one year ago this month that I was packing up my old life for an unknown new one.

I told Linds H. today that I'm a little disappointed with this. I've wanted to spend some time reflecting on the past year and all that has happened in my life during it. I kind of feel like right now is really my "new year's eve."

I also told Linds that not having time to think about it might be a good thing. Because then I might be all emotional.

So, until things settle down just a bit I'm going to focus on the present and leave the past alone.

Chicago here I come!

Monday, February 16, 2009

Mimosas, Mondays and sausage loaves

Today was another successful Mimosa Monday.

I made waffles like I used to for Mimosa Mondays of yore. We had sausage links, a wonderful fruit plate, and this DELICIOUS bread from Molly with even more sausage, which we called the sausage loaf. Oh, and don't forget a couple pitchers of mimosas...

I really love this event!

Molly's Sausage Bread (a.k.a. the sausage loaf)

1 can Pilsbury pizza dough
1 lb. Jimmy Dean sausage, cooked, crumbled
Shredded mozzarella and shredded parmesean - amount depends on how cheesy as you want it
1 egg

Spread pizza dough out. Top dough with sausage and cheese spreading to within an inch of the edge of the dough. Roll the dough into a "log." Gently whisk the egg then brush it over the "log."

Cook the loaf at the temp specified on the dough can.

Voila! Sausage loaf!

You can also spice it up with jalapenos, or top it with marinara...the possibilities are endless!

Did I say how much I love this event?!

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Korean cuisine

Yesterday Molly, Brandon and I went to lunch at the Korean House in Cheyenne.

It was the first time any of us had been there. It's a total hole-in-the-wall kind of place that in passing you might think twice about entering. It's usually these places that are the best though, and I had heard some good things about this one.

The little place was pretty busy. We each ordered something different so we could taste everyone else's choice. Molly and Brandon also ordered an egg roll of sorts that was kind of like a deep fried cabbage and meat roll. It was pretty good, I admit.

Overall, I would totally go back. It wasn't quite as good as the Korean buffet we would sometimes go to in Virginia, but if I'm jonesing for something "ethnic" this place will definitely do the trick.

Yeah, I know...we went in there?!

The fridge full of jars of kimchee (a pickled/fermented veggie side that's spicy. Sounds bad, but it's so good!), pickled radish, and pickled cucumber. The kimchee and radish were delish!

My bulgogi - a wine(esq) marinated beef plate with sticky rice. I LOVE sticky rice. Love. You can also see the fried cabbage roll thing...

Brandon's spicy chicken on the right and Molly's Be Bim Bop, which looked amazing. There's an egg on top...!

The scenic wildlife paneling is an interesting choice for decor, but somehow it just worked...

Friday, February 13, 2009

Runnin' on fumes

My post today was going to either be about my awesome run this morning in the snow or about the Korean restaurant Molly, Brandon and I are trying today for lunch.

All these ideas went out the window, however, when I ran out of gas in front of the Capitol this morning.

We were up there coordinating a press conference. On the way up I forewarned my coworker Matt that I was so low on gas we'd be lucky to make it the few blocks to the Capitol. We were lucky...but not for long.

Matt ran to his dad's house to get a gas can then went and filled it up before coming to get me. How chivalrous is that?! My hero - clearly. I bought him a coffee from City News and will be buying him a six-pack later...

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Kim, this is your life...

I went to a work reception and dinner - and after dinner drinks - last night and every time I turned around there was a blast from my past.

From a state senator who I used to work with at Casper College, a friend's cousin who I knew in D.C., who is now heading up my old boss's Jackson office, to a high school friend's step-dad and a college friend's uncle who are both state reps.

It was fun to run into people like that.

That's Wyoming for you!

Sunday, February 8, 2009

Ft. Collins frolicking...

Yesterday I went to Ft. Collins, Colo., to kill some time since all my other plans were canceled.

I figured I'd hit up antiques row and just really take some time browsing. I made it through one store when my friend Molly from work, who was also in Ft. Collins hanging out with her cousin and his wife, texted me to join them at the O'Dells brewery. Needless to say, antiquing went out the window.

It was uncanny that Molly mentioned going there because on my way down I had been thinking how much I would like to do just that.

O'Dells is a Colorado brewery and their beers are pretty great. I've been drinking pints of their Easy Street wheat since college. I'm also a fan of their 5 Barrel Pale Ale and 90 Schilling.

The tap room was packed! I ordered the "pilot" - their flight of seasonal beers - and a pint of Easy Street and hunkered down with the rest of the crew.

Other breweries to come!

Inside the tap room...

My flight and pint...

The cousins...

Me and Veronica enjoying our brews...

Molly and I crashed at Brandon and Veronica's and went to breakfast this morning at Choice City Butcher and Deli in Old Town Ft. Collins. It was awesome! The digs...

More of the digs...

Look how CUTE that squat pot of strawberry jam is! It was delish too! Lots of cinnamon going on in there...

My breakfast. Portabella benedict and fried tomatoes. Pretty darn tasty...

Friday, February 6, 2009

Friday Fave

I'm organizing photos on my computer and just found this week's Friday Fave.

Have you ever heard of rainbows at 6 a.m.? I couldn't believe it! I was on my last run in D.C., right after I made the decision to leave, and there was a double rainbow. I really felt like it was a message...something to always make me smile and remember that last run in my city.

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Cowboy radio

Since the beginning of the year, UW Athletics has been doing live radio shows with the Cowboys and Cowgirls head coaches at Altitude Chophouse in Laramie.

I've been really wanting to check it out, so last night I made the trek over to hang out with some old friends and see what it was like.

It was a cool event with lots of fans there, but also not exactly what I was expecting. I thought the show would be like a side activity to everyone eating and drinking. Instead it was the main event and when they were on air nobody talked, which made catching up with old friends kind of hard.

We talked anyway...

The crowd at the show...

Artemisia and A.

Sunday, February 1, 2009

Puckin' around...

Last night Brandon and I went to UW's last home hockey game in Cheyenne. It's a club sport and they sometimes play at the Taco John's Event Center here.

I had never been to one of their games and have been really wanting to do that this year. The place was packed! We couldn't believe how many people were there for the game.

It was fun too - even though we lost to Air Force 5-3. There were fights, of course, and Air Force's coach even got kicked out of the game!

It was a great, cheap way to spend a night and I will definitely be going a lot more next year!

It's open seating and Brandon and I scored front row seats. Usually seats on the glass are super expensive, but here you could just go stand right by it...

Start of the game...


Our boys!