Hello Joyflakes!

I realize that this post is coming to you a little later than originally planned...but what would I be if not consistently inconstant when it comes to posting on my blog?! Since it is so late, I am going to lump April and May together into one post and we'll see how June goes and if I post on time.

Voyager & Drums of Autumn, by Diana Gabaldon. These are the third and fourth books in the Outlander series that I was reading in March. It is my second time reading the series and They're such good books! I love rereading books because you always think you know what happens but you catch something new, or something you forgot about surprises you. Plus, I like to think of books as friends and it's always nice to catch up with old friends.

I've been going through a lot of life changes recently so my writing hasn't gotten to be much of a priority. Hopefully, with my new schedule and responsibilities, I'll be able to get back into blogger mode.

Moving & Shaking:
As I just told you, I've been going through a lot of life changes over the last couple of months so I'll give you the quick and dirty version. I left my job at the college planning blog in mid May and have started a new position at two of the museums in town. The choice to leave was based on the fact that as of mid-may, I am officially a full time student again. I'm taking 10 credits of french (that's two semesters worth) this summer in 12 weeks and I really need to focus on finishing my degree. My new job not only allows me flexible hours, but it is on campus, so it's super convenient.

In other news, we've gone and visited family, spent time with friends, Misha finished her second year of law school and started her summer internship and I was in my best friends wedding in May. We've been busy but having a blast settling into our new lives.

April & May Sounded Like: 
As you all know, I love Spotify. In April I discovered a band called The National Parks and I've been listening to their radio station pretty exclusively. The nice thing is that finding them also lead me to Judah & The Lion who I'm hoping to see either in Chicago next month, or in St. Louis this fall.

The National Parks

Judah & The Lion

I'm really excited about the changes I've been making in my life recently, I'm feeling healthier and happier than I have in a while and I can just tell that this is going to be a good year. It's going to be tough sometimes, for once I feel ready to take on whatever comes my way.


So...I ate snails...

Hello Joyflakes!

This past weekend, we went to visit Misha's family in Chicago. Her aunt from California was visiting for a family wedding and Misha was going to be her date. So we took it as an opportunity to come and see everyone at once.

We met up with everyone at her sisters's house and headed off to 90 Miles, an amazing Cuban restaurant for dinner. This was the second time that Misha and I had been there (the first was for a friends birthday party) and it may be one of my favorite places to eat in the city. The empanadas are spectacular and I'm pretty sure I would eat anything that came out of that kitchen. SO GOOD!

After dinner, we headed back to the apartment, picked up Izzy, and walked a few blocks over to Black Dog Gelato. I got blackberry passion fruit and graham cracker and it was OUTSTANDING. The perfect balance of sweet and tart. On previous visits I had gotten milk stout and salted caramel...basically every flavor they create is delicious and over the course of the weekend I ate a LOT of gelato...when in Rome Chicago, eh?

The next day, Misha and her aunt headed off to Michigan for the wedding and I spent the day with her sister and her sister's fiancé. We had originally planned on going to a museum and to the dog park but it was such a beautiful day that we ended up skipping the museum. Instead, we ran some errands and went for a long walk and some dog park time.

After the dog park, we headed home to change clothes and then went for an early dinner at The Cotton Duck.

The Cotton Duck is a Chicago restaurant and art gallery where the menu changes with the artwork. We were seated in their patio, which was probably the cutest patio I have ever seen in my life. It was full of bistro lights, sculptures, and flowers. And with the entrance to the street looking somewhat like a brightly painted construction wall, it is like walking into a secret garden in the middle of the city.

The current installation is called "Forage" and all of the food had a very earthy, organic feel. The portions sizes are small so I would definitely suggest an appetizer. We opted for the burrata and it was fantastic.

The Cotton Duck, like many of the restaurants in Chicago, is BYOB, which I love because it makes not drinking really easy. It also o means that there are REALLY good options for non-alcoholic cocktails. I opted for the Monarchy, which was a mixture of peach rooibos and champagne peach sparkling water.

For my main course, I asked our server for a suggestion of what she thought was the best dish on the menu and orders that. The Alaskan Halibut. It was served over fennel with escargot tapenade and a drizzle of olive oil.

Not only do I love halibut, but I've always wanted to try escargot. Served as a tapenade, it was much less scary than if it had been served in the shell so this was a perfect opportunity.

After a delicious dinner, we had just enough room for dessert. So, we walked back past Black Dog Gelato and stopped for a scoop (or two).

Talk about a perfect day in Chicago! Have you ever been to The Cotton Duck? Where is your favorite place to eat in the city, I'd love some suggestions for when we go back in June!


Why I Gave Up Booze

Hello Joyflakes!

As I'm sure you can tell from the title, I have recently quit drinking booze. The decision came as somewhat of a surprise to everyone that I know, including myself. Ever since I could get my hands on a bottle of wine, or a beer, or my all time favorite gin, I have been enjoying a drink. With the exception of my junior year at Iowa State, I didn't drink every day and I would in no way call myself an alcoholic, but I did tend to drink to excess on a regular basis. There's something about being in your late teens and early 20s that suddenly makes your world revolve around drinking. It's what you do with your friends, and how you learn to de-stress, and once you're out of college, going to a bar is generally how you meet new people.

But for the last year or so, I've realized that I don't like the person that I am when I drink. I don't think I'm mean, or angry, or violent, but I do think that I use booze to overcome the anxiety that I feel in social situations. Having a drink lowers your inhibitions, but it doesn't help you become a more fun or exciting person to be around and it certainly won't make you like yourself any more than you do when you're sober.

So after a particularly stupid night that left me hugging the toilet at 6:30pm the next day, I decided that I just couldn't do it anymore. I needed to take a break from drinking. So I stopped. I gave myself until May 1st to be sober and when May 1st rolled around, I decided to keep going. I still went out to bars with friends, but instead of ordering my signature double gin and soda, I opted for simple soda water.

What I found, was that after the first few twinges of jealousy when someone had something new and delicious to try, I just didn't care. My soda water allowed me something to have in my hands (not knowing what to do with my hands makes me anxious) and it meant that I didn't have to answer a million questions from people who didn't know there was no booze in my drink.

I was worried most about the questions and people pushing me to drink: "But, you're not an alcoholic, just have a drink!" "Why can't you just have one? It's not going to kill you" "Are you sure you don't want to try it? It's really good!" But what I found was that people either A. didnt care, or B. thought that I was doing it to be healthy. Instead of getting pressured to drink, I got comments like "Wow! You're going to save so much money!" or "you're cutting so many calories by not drinking! good for you."

I've always admired people who simply choose to not drink, so I don't know why I thought that people would be so judgmental towards me about it, but I'm glad that I've found the opposite to be true.

I'm not sure if I'll start drinking again someday, but I know that for now, I'm enjoying being sober and that's good enough for me.

Until next time!