Weekend: Piano Bar, Brunching & Running

What more does one need?

I guess an extra day in the weekend to recover from all the fun, but don’t we all wish that…

Matt and I started out the weekend by heading on an impromptu trip to Milwaukee on Friday night. First stop: Transfer Pizza for dinner. We’ve eaten there twice and both times loooved their pizza. My favorite so far is the “Katalina Pizza” — it has a garlic cream sauce, cheese, artichokes and salami. Definitely not a healthy option, but oh-so-delicious. So delicious, in fact, that I didn’t even take the time to snap a pic before devouring it…

After chowing down, we met up with my friend and then cabbed it to Lucille’s Piano Bar in downtown Milwaukee. This is our favorite place to go when we’re in Milwaukee. Dueling pianos are theeee best! If you have never been to a dueling piano bar, basically two people are playing at pianos/singing across from each other. The audience can take up their song requests (with some money to speed along their place in the queue). It’s popular for birthday parties, bachelorette parties, etc. because you can make the guest of honor sit up on stage while the piano players sing and play them a special song. You can imagine how this can be interesting (and hilarious) for the bachelor/bachelorette parties! Ha

Funny moment, off the bat, was when someone paid them $5 to play “Oh, Canada”—then someone brought up $10 to make them stop and play the US National Anthem instead. And because this is Milwaukee, you bet everyone stood up, put their hand over their hearts (with beer in their left hand) and sang along. Haha!

Singing the National Anthem at Lucille's Piano Bar

Singing the National Anthem at Lucille’s Piano Bar

We were out late, so Saturday morning had an equally late and slow start. Nursing some slight headaches, we headed out to brunch at a new (to us) place: Café Centraal.

Brunch in Milwaukee at Cafe Centraal

Uhhh, amazing brunch! I mauled the Chile Rojo Corn Cakes: Cornmeal pancakes topped with fried eggs, chorizo, white cheddar cheese, chile rojo, salsa verde, housemade pico de gallo, and chipotle sour cream.

Brunch in Milwaukee at Cafe Centraal

Sooo tasty. Kelsey got a yummy omelette, but Matt’s French Toast stole the show and we helped him eat it: Fresh berries on top of cinnamon coated challah French toast, layered with creamy mascarpone cheese and topped with basil.

Brunch in Milwaukee at Cafe Centraal

Last vestiges of the best french toast ever…

OMG, best french toast any of us had ever had. Go. Try it.

After brunch, Matt and I headed home for some errands and grocery shopping. We made dinner (Matt’s specialty, beef stroganoff) and then watched American Hustle. WOW, what a funny and great movie! I know it’s gotten all sorts of acclamations but it really is all it’s cracked up to be.

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And I love J Law. And Bradley Cooper…

Ended the night reading some of my latest book, A Thousand Splendid Suns.

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Had to force myself to put it away to go to sleep!

Snoozed away until this morning, then I spent a little over 3 hours (!!) getting in my long run for the week. Rest of the day’s forecast: Eat, take a nap, and relax! I’ll just leave all that house cleaning for, uh, tomorrow I guess… Why can’t the weekend have three days in it?

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What was the highlight of your weekend?
Favorite book/movie of the moment?

Crafting & Partying

Howdy all! What a fun, quick weekend.

I had a rousing Friday night of crafting—woohooooo. My running club had its yearly swanky party on Saturday, and I volunteered to make some DIY table settings. I had fun picking out the supplies at Hobby Lobby, and ended up making all 80 place settings for about $15 (could have been cheaper, but I didn’t realize one of my stamps was $7).

DIY place card table settings with mustache and bow stamps

It was super easy! All I did was pick out two stamps (mustache for the men, a bow for the ladies) and got black and pink ink. Then I bought what were technically bookmarks, but they worked perfectly once I folded them in half to stand up.

A little stampin’ on top and then I wrote the names below—they turned out super cute!

DIY place card table settings with black mustache and pink bow stamps 

I’m already excited to make the table cards for our wedding, is that weird?

I woke up early Saturday morning and went on my cuh-ray-zay hard long run. Afterwards, Matt took me to lunch, by which time I was ready to gnaw off my arm or anything that walked by. Literally. Luckily, no appendages were harmed and I scarfed down some buffalo chicken pizza. It was scrumptious, and I inhaled it too quickly to take a photo. Then I laid around almost all afternoon because I was so totally spent.

By 6 o’clock, Matt and I were on our way to the running club party. It was fun to see everyone dressed up and snazzy, rather than sweaty and smelly like we usually are. Ha! There were a TON of people there this year, and it is so cool to see our little running club growing so fast.

We chowed down on some delicious food: Bruschetta and bacon-wrapped dates for appys, filet mignon and boiled potatoes, and homemade desserts. I washed it all down with a couple cocktails and watched people bust their moves on the dance floor (it takes a lot more than two cocktails to get me out there) before we called it a night around 10. We were pooped!

Sunday was spent getting lots of things done around the house, before we went to an impromptu Super Bowl party at a friend’s house for a couple hours. Highlights of the game were the Red Hot Chili Peppers, lots of yummy appetizers, and a glass of wine. Notice no football mentioned there. 😉

– – –

Highlight of your weekend?

What did you do (and eat) for the Super Bowl? 

Wedding Planning + Good Eats {Weekend}

How was your weekend? Mine has been great!

I started my weekend early, on Friday morning. I decided earlier this week to take a random vaca day off work. I wanted to take it easy while I can, because two of my two co-workers are going on maternity leave soon. Good timing, because one of them ended up having her babies (yep, twins) early…ON Friday! They are too cute.

I spent the day relaxing until lunchtime, then did some chores and laundry, and worked on wedding stuff all afternoon. Almost ready to send out our Save the Dates. Yay! I am also an uber web design nerd and am pretty excited to start making our wedding website… 🙂

Friday night, one of our closest friends {and best man in our wedding} came up to visit. We went out to dinner for some burgers and beers. Not sure if that’s the best pre-long run fuel, but it seemed to work out okay. Must have been the curly fries. Early to home for a movie and bed for me, while the boys went out.

I watched “The Place Beyond the Pines.” I had heard it was a great movie, plus it has Ryan Gosling and Bradley Cooper in it.

The Place Beyond the Pines

Yesss. Beyond the eye candy, it was a good story; not one that necessarily left you feeling all warm & fuzzy inside, but not depressed either—just thoughtful. I’d certainly recommend it if you like a good drama.

Saturday, I got up and ran my long run from hell. Okay, it wasn’t that bad, but it was tough.

After I got home, I showered, ate, and laid around for a couple hours watching TV and reading my newest book, The Kite Runner. I was beat. I finally made myself just go take a nap so I could get some energy to do something fun for the day.

Matt and I ended up going out to dinner at a new {to us} place. I got an “Old Cuban” cocktail, made with rum, mint and champagne {think mojito, all grown up}. The food was delicious: We had crab wontons to start, then fish tacos and stuffed grouper as our mains.

Fish tacos with avocado, roasted red pepper and cabbage.

Fish tacos with avocado, roasted red pepper and cabbage.

The service was great, but it seemed a little over-priced for this area. On the plus side, I felt like I could probably make both dishes at home with some experimentation, so fish tacos is on the menu for sometime this week!

I had really wanted dessert all day {specifically, a bug fudgy brownie} so we stopped by the store on the way home and I got some mix to whip some brownies up. Matt wanted vanilla ice cream, which led me to discovering this thing of beauty:

Haagen Dazs Peanut Butter Pie ice cream

I’ve died and gone to heaven.

OMG. My favorite dessert ever, peanut butter pie, in ice cream form? Yes.

Favorite dessert: Brownie Sundae!

Favorite dessert: Brownie Sundae!

I combined that with my homemade brownies for the best desert in the history of the world. Or at least, this weekend.

And this is the point of the post where I tell you that I am going on a diet this week. Haha! But seriously. It’s happening.

A few more things to be excited about:
I’m only a couple posts away from my 100th blog post. Woo!
And only a few Twitter followers away from 200… Follow me!

– – –

What should I do to celebrate my 100th blog post?
What’s a good movie you’ve watched lately?
Fave ice cream flavor?

Weekend: Birthday Dinner & Christmas Clean-up

Happy Monday! (?)

Who likes Mondays, anyway? Let’s look back at this past weekend instead!

Friday night was my favorite kind of Friday: A lazy night in, going to bed early to rest up for a long run Saturday morning.

…Which didn’t happen, thanks to lots of freezing rain overnight. I spent Saturday indoors, working on some blog stuff ‘til after lunchtime. I also downloaded lots of new tunes for a new workout playlist—keep an eye out, I’ll be posting it soon!

Matt and I settled in to watch more Boardwalk Empire for an hour or two, then I got myself prettied up and Matt took me out for an early birthday dinner! (Psst, it’s actually tomorrow.)

We went to a little old-fashioned supper club restaurant nearby. Youngest people there by a good 30 years, but that’s how we roll.

I happily indulged and got a filet + twice baked potato. Glass of vino on the side.

A lil birthday dinner!

Mmm, birthday dinner.

So yummy! Alas, too full for dessert.

When we got home, we popped some champagne and had a glass (or two).

Happy {early} birthday to me!

Happy {early} birthday to me!

Matt watched some hockey while I worked on our wedding Save the Date postcards, which I’d like to get sent out this month. They are turning out so well, I can’t wait to show them off! The perfect mix of fun/quasi-vintage/us. Now, to just settle on the image to use, we are so torn…

Sunday morning, I got up early to meet some running club friends to get my long run in. It was still pretty icy out in the roads, and we had to run carefully. The run was good, but I ended up falling on my butt (after we were done, just walking) but I must have enough extra padding there, because I feel fine today. 😉

Matt and I spent the rest of our Sunday doing TONS of laundry and finally taking down all of our Christmas decorations.

Note to self: Next year, take the Christmas tree down before it’s totally dead and drops all its needles everywhere.

Oh Christmas Tree... farewell.

Oh Christmas Tree… farewell.

I spent the rest of the evening curled up on the couch with another glass of champagne (couldn’t let the rest of the bottle go to waste!) and reading a book. It’s an easy read, and interesting to think about what would happen. Nice way to end the weekend!

– – –

How was your weekend?
Highlights?

The Long Haul to Turkey Day

It’s been a busy week so far. Even though it’s a short week at work, I’m counting down the hours ‘til Thanksgiving: Family, food, relaxation & a break! I’m in need of all those things. And maybe a few glasses of wine.

Well, always some wine. 😉

Here’s what my week has looked like so far:

My weekend involved lots of house cleaning, organizing & improvements. I’ll do full reveals of these rooms once they’re completely done, but I’ve pretty much finished making over our main guest bedroom and my office. Yay! Finally.

Sneak peek of our guest room. Neutral and comfortable.

Sneak peek of our guest room, picture unhung.

Tidbit of my office: My favorite part, my "clothesline" for fun stuff!

Tidbit of my office: My favorite part, my miniature “clothesline” for fun stuff!

I took a break Sunday and broke my hermit streak. Seriously, once it gets cold out, I do NOT want to leave the house. But my friend, Liz, invited me to meet her and a friend for a beer at a local craft brewery, Rustic Road. Beer? Sure!

Rustic Road Hazelnut Harvest Beer

Rustic Road Hazelnut Harvest Beer

I drank the Hazelnut Harvest amber ale. It was supposed to have flavors of vanilla and hazelnut, but they were pretty faint. Overall, the beer was okay, but not one I’d buy at a store. Which is sad, because I love me some hazelnuts!

I came home and got into the Christmas spirit a bit… Okay, I admit, I’ve been listening to Christmas music for the past week. But, I’ve been working on Black Friday and other holiday emails every day at work, what do you expect?!

Our first Christmas wreath!

Our first Christmas wreath!

Matt got us this wreath, handmade from some Boy Scouts. Love it! Mmm, fresh pine.

Then I enjoyed an Angry Orchard amidst the romantic glow of candles…

112613_angry

…while I baked some [break ‘n’ bake] cookies to bring to my running club meeting for the next night. I’m a cheater.

Simply Pillsbury break n bake cookies - peanut butter and chocolate chip. Yum!

But I tell ya, these babies are so yummy! Lots of my running club buds were even saying so. Plus they are made “simply” without a bunch of crap like normal pre-made cookies. So, uh, they’re good for you, right?

On Monday, I got into work by 7a.m. and put in a good 11 hours, trying to get everything done for the upcoming Thanksgiving weekend. Had to skip my planned run with friends, but it was worth getting some extra stuff done. Plus, I rocked an afternoon presentation to my boss and some execs. Ohhh yes. Hoping to help make some good changes in the near future!

Left work by 6 to go to the running club meeting and feed people with my delicious homemade cookies. The cookies were gone quickly, and they [plus pizza] fueled us through a couple hours of packet stuffing for our upcoming sponsored race, the Mayor’s Day Turkey Run!

Did you ever realize how much work goes into that packet stuffing?

I hadn’t.

Packet Stuffing for the Mayor's Day Turkey Run

Packet Stuffing for the Mayor’s Day Turkey Run

But it took a while, and a whole bunch of spunky runner folks.

112613_stuffers

And a few paper cuts.

Packets for the Mayor's Day Turkey Run

Look at all those packets! That’s not even all of them…

But we got it done! If you’re looking for a Turkey Trot or a Thanksgiving Day race to help offset all the eating, drinking & being merry on Thursday, sign up for my running club’s race! It’s almost sold out, it’s a popular one. 🙂

Today was another long day at work, but in a good way. Getting lots done and ready to bring on the holiday shoppers! But coding a bazillion emails has made me cross-eyed. Good thing my boss brought in cupcakes to fuel us along.

I give thanks for cupcakes.

I give thanks for cupcakes.

BTW, best way to eat a cupcake: Tear it in half, and flip the top with the frosting over. Eat like a scrumptious cupcake sandwich, with frosting in every bite. You’re welcome.

One more long day of work, LOTS to get done. Then it’s Thanksgiving break time!

And also time to start streaking. A run streak, that is. You in?

Good thing this post looks so healthy, with all its boozy mentions and cookies and cupcakes. Maybe I should start taking pictures of my salads. But you know, those just aren’t as pretty.

What’s getting you through the week?
What are your plans for the holidays?
Will you be run streaking?

Weekend: Run Club, Tornados & Toilet Water

Hi friends! Happy Monday. How was your weekend? If you couldn’t tell by the title of my post, mine was a little eventful come Sunday…

Saturday morning started bright & early at 6:30. (Funny how it’s so much easier to get up at that time on a Saturday, versus every other workday morning.) I had planned to run 4-6 miles with my running club, and even though it was a little dismal out—overcast, chilly and misting—once I got going, I felt pretty good. Two new ladies came to run with the club that morning, so I got to know them while we ran. It’s always fun making new running buds!

At almost 6 miles, my stomach started really grumbling at me, so I called it short and finished up with some walking. No sweat, since I’m not training for anything. It feels good to run without putting the pressure on every time!

Afterwards, I chatted a while with the rest of the club members while I sipped some hot cocoa (yummm). Lots of people came out this week, it was fun! We kinda took over the room. Just look at all that reflective gear.

running club @ post-run coffee

running club @ post-run coffee

[Nope, that is not Voldemort in the lower left-hand corner, whose head is a blur. Just my friend Dave. I doubt Voldy is much of a runner.]

After I got home & took a long hot shower to warm back up, Matt & I flexed our sweet Excel skills and did some finance & wedding budgeting. We made it through without getting frustrated or ripping out any hair, so I call that a win! We must have felt pretty good afterwards, because we ran a bunch of errands and spent a lot of money and got lots of needed house stuff…plus a few little extras. Love this little typographic sign for my office (it’s slowly coming together):

home office typographic sign with motivational quotes

This is my fave quote on there:

home office typographic sign with motivational quotes

We all make mistakes. What matters most is what we learn from them.

As a creative and a web designer, no truer words have been spoken!

Saturday night, we made a nice dinner, then had another low-key night in, which included wine & watching White House Down with Channing Tatum. Oh yes. I guess I enjoyed that part more than Matt.

Sunday unwrapped a series of unfortunate events for us first-time homeowners. A faulty warning buzzer failed to let us know that our holding tank was full. (Since we don’t have city water or sewage, this tank holds all of our “grey water,” a.k.a. anything that goes down a drain.) After I tried to flush a tissue down one of our toilets literally five times, trying to figure out why the water wouldn’t go down the whole way…we soon found a few inches of water on the ground in our laundry room, next to the bathroom. Thus we came to realize that the holding tank was full, there was nowhere for the water to go, and it had backed up out of the drain and into the laundry room. WOMP. At least it wasn’t, er, dirty water…

While cleaning up the waterworks, the wind howled and screeched outside. Soon the lights were flickering and tornado sirens started blaring! Crikey, I thought it couldn’t get much worse than backed up toilet water, but there you go. We were lucky nothing too bad ended up hitting us during the crazy storms all day, but my thoughts definitely go out to those in Illinois who were hit by the tornados yesterday. So scary. 😦

Needless to say, things were kind of put into perspective. Matt and I finished cleaning up, paid almost $200 to have our tank emergency-pumped on a Sunday (ouch), and all was okay again.

After cleaning up the basement floors, then ourselves, we headed to our friends’ house to watch the Lions-Steelers game. No stinky water or severe weather can keep us from duking it out over our football rivalry!

Steelers vs Lions

Steelers vs Lions

P.S. The Steelers won. But I won’t rub it in. 😉

We chowed down on some snacks, and Matt’s homemade chili.

homemade chili, football Sunday

and some candy for dessert.

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Plus I tried a new beer: Shock Top Raspberry Wheat.

Shock Top Raspberry Wheat

I normally love Shock Top, but the raspberry flavor was a little too fake…almost reminded me of cough syrup at first. After a few drinks, I guess I got used to it, because I liked it enough to finish it. Ha.

After the game, we came home, ordered in a pizza for a late dinner, and caught up on our show, Once Upon a Time, for the night.

What did you do this weekend? What do you do when home disaster strikes?

We tend to freak out for approximately one minute, then I usually call my mom (who will later make fun of me), then get down to work and take care of business. Yesterday we stayed pretty calm and even laughed while cleaning up, because of the ridiculousness of it all, so I guess we’re getting better at dealing with these unexpected things that come along with owning a house!

Weekend: Food, Zombies & NYCM

An extra hour of sleep last night, sun up & shining early this morning, a hot mug of coffee, and the ING NYC marathon on TV this morning: Happy Sunday!

morning coffee

It doesn’t take much to put a smile on my face. Even that coffee mug makes me happy. I got it handmade from an island in Greece when I was on vacation there several years ago.

Enjoy the little things.

How’s your weekend been? Mine has been a good one—I’m finally feeling 90% recovered from this cold/bronchitis. I even have my appetite back. Woohoo! We’ve had a fun time with Matt’s brother, Andy, in town since Thursday night. There’s been a lot of time just hanging out and chatting, catching up. We’ve also eaten lots of good food: Gourmet burgers at Captain Mike’s, sushi, tapas and cheese and champagne. No wonder my appetite is coming back. 😉

We had a fun and laaate night out on Friday, including darts and karaoke and maybe some Jello shots, which left me sorta dragging most of yesterday. I haven’t been “out” in our town for months. Chalk it up to cutting out a lot of late night partying and drinks in general. Bars + late nights + marathon training aren’t the best mix. But now that my race is over, it’s nice to go have a few drinks and socialize on a Friday night, without worrying about waking up at 6-7am to run miles upon miles.

(However—I admit, I missed it: Getting up early to run, that feeling of accomplishment and re-centering myself. All before 9am. Something about it just makes me feel whole, makes my weekend complete. Looking forward to next Saturday morning already.)

I also got to flex my artistic skills and help Andy zombie-fy himself for a party at a club he went to with some friends last night. How creepy & real does this look!

Zombie Make-Up

Zombie Make-Up

Today is our last full day of having Andy around, and we might go do a little shopping before heading up to Milwaukee for the evening. No concrete plans for the night, but there’s plenty of places and things to stumble upon up and have a good time.

For now, I’m enjoying being up early but still rested from that extra hour of sleep, watching the NYC marathon on TV. Love that it is being broadcasted, so exciting for our sport to be on ESPN2.

ING New York City Marathon on TV

ING New York City Marathon on TV

This made me laugh—the network was interviewing a runner during the race, the reporter and cameraman running with her. Ha! That takes talent. The runners around them didn’t seem too excited about it…

What did you do this weekend? What ‘little things’ make your day? Would you dress up as a zombie?

I couldn’t dress up as a zombie, let around be at a party full of people looking like them—I HATE scary stuff and I’d be creeped out all night. Yet, The Walking Dead is one of my fave TV shows of the moment. Go figure.