Monday, September 22, 2008

Summer 2008

What an eventful summer. Spent 3 weeks back in the UK, saw lots of friends and had a great time.

Then back to Chicago and moved into my new place - it was so worth it (Check out the photos!). It was hard work lazing on the roof and deciding where my furniture should go!

Then bought a jeep with Lauren - that really was hard work, as has been the past 2 months being broke!

Back at school now, no more fun to be had! Boo!

But no! Brother Ben's visit! That was lots of fun.

And Zinny! More fun!

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Dan's birthday - 4th April

What an amazing day I had, due in whole to my fabulous friends and family who made it so memorable.

Anna started the day off to a cracking start, providing champagne brunch for 9; croissants, pain au chocolat, granola, fresh berries, greek yoghurt and honey, different breads, OJ, coffee and of course, champagne! You can tell it made quite an impression! It was such a great way to start your birthday if it's a working day - I thoroughly recommend it (and Anna!).

The kids were absolutely gorgeous. As little Jack said, "Let's have the best super day!" And we did! The day flew past and we just had lots of fun. Lots of lovely pressies too!

Mum and Dad sent me a beautiful bouquet of flowers - my first ever interflora! So appreciated.

Ben phoned at 6pm (midnight in England) and wished me a (slightly slurred) Happy Birthday!

Tom hosted a drinks party at his that evening; it was so lovely to be able to arrive (harrassed, late and with lemon bars) and have nothing to sort and organise - thanks Tom! Picture lots of candles, tasty guacamole, fabulous posh veggie tart from Pip, vino frizzante and a contented Dan with all her new pals (sans Lauren who was over the pond in Scotland - boo!).

What a great day!

Monday, March 31, 2008

Easter Holidays March 2008

Easter holidays - bliss! Two whole weeks off and nothing to do, just hang out and chill in Chicago! Which I haven't really done since arriving here in August, what with jetting off to Canada, Jamaica and Utah! I had grand plans of doing lots of interesting museums/gallaries/cultural things, but really it was just a two-week long binge fest of brunch, lunch and dinner, shopping, coffee, drinking wine, eating pizza, sleeping in ............ you get the picture!

However we did manage a little mini-break in a log cabin; about 3 hours north into Wisconsin. The scenery on the drive up was a bit disappointing, the Midwest is just flat and not very pretty, certainly nothing compared with Utah. But it was nice to get away and out little log cabin was tucked away in the woods and provided a lot of relaxation, fun and interesting woodland walks! We drove up early on morning and stocked up on food and wine (ridiculous Wisconsin law - EVERYONE at the checkout must carry a valid ID if you're buying alcohol - what happens if you're with your 5 year old, we asked? Or your teenage daughter? Or if your friend isn't 21 but wasn't planning on drinking anyway?! I did start thumping the counter and shouting about democracy and having the freedom to make up my own mind who was going to drink alcohol ..........!) Anyway, moving on!

Click on the photos on the right to get a better view and more of a commentary. We did fun things like standing on a frozen lake (something only insane people do, surely?!) - we made the dog do it first to check it was ok! We stopped off in Madison (capital of Wisconsin) on the way home and had Cornish pasties for lunch! Almost as good as the real thing! We also saw old men out on the lake, ice fishing. Will give that a miss, I think.

2 whole months til my next holiday! How will I survive?!

Tuesday, March 4, 2008

28th Feb - the celebrations

And So Emma's birthday (only turning 28!). Wow, I'm surrounded by sweet young things! Ali and I spent an amazing night on the Wednesday at a gorgeous cheese deli just a few blocks away, 'Pastoral', tasting different cheeses and choosing prosciutto, sun-dried tomatoes, olives, fresh breads etc. ready for the next night's feast!

The party was held at Ali's pad, which was a given really as you could really only squeeze about 2 1/2 people in mine. What an incredible apartment she has - has completely turned about my decision to stay where I am next year (moving though - what a pain!). It all looked fabulous, the table was groaning with delicacies and the chat was flowing (present: the birthday girl herself, Lauren, Sharon, Gillian and Tom). Many bottles of wine later, I got a second wind and demanded that another bottle be opened! Fun Sharon made a guest appearance but I think we were all very much 'not fun' the next day!

Friday night Head Mike treated us to drinks at our school local; I opted for oj/cranberry! A quick power nap later and then headed to Lauren's, who was hosting drinks for Em. Fun John was definitely out and nothing was going to keep him from having his say! We headed over to 'The Holiday Club' bar, which, if I had been on better form, seemed like a great place, full of atmosphere and characters! Alas, I retreated home at midnight, defeated.

The celebrations continued! The girls enjoyed a late lunch on Saturday at John's Place (no relation to previously mentioned Fun John!) and ate the enormous portions with great satisfaction (well, I did!). The food here (Chicago) is amazing, the service is (generally) amazing, the prices aren't bad - what's not to love?! We had chosen this place because it was really near the gorgeous street of Armitage, full of little shops and boutiques for us to explore. I look forward to returning when I have made my fortune!

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Walking by the Lake - 26th Feb

Em and I went for a walk (power!) down by the lake last night after school. How is it the temperature is only about 28F (-2C?) but feels SO cold?! I haven't been down to the lake in so long - not since Autumn at least, which is crazy when it's probably my favourite part of Chicago. Em went down on the weekend and said the lake was frozen in these crazy formations, which sounded cool. Unfortunately it had melted by last night, but the lake itself was covered with a thick layer of slushy ice, and it was rolling and roiling as if it had a life of its own -like out of a sci-fi film! The pictures came out too dark to see properly, unfortunately. I wandered out into the snowy trees, do I look like an Inuit?!!!

Compare these pictures with the one of Lauren, taken just this weekend on a beautifully clear day downtown!

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Utah! 9th - 16th February

How quickly times flies?!! This half-term was gorgeous, it seemed to go on forever, but suddenly I'm back at work and it's like I was never away!

We flew into SLC which was a quick 3 hour flight with gorgeous views of the Rockies. And the weather ..................! Bright blue skies and sunshine, which was totally uplifting. Ali said that apparently we've had a total of 11 minutes of sunshine in Chicago this February, which probably explains our excitement!

We drove north for about 3 hours, winding our way higher and higher into the mountains, and ended up cresting the hill and driving own the other side into sweet little Bear Lake (population: about 50 weirdos, it seemed!). Our condo was lush, we really appreciated the massive beds, hot tub and fireplace, especially with aching muscles.

We set off to find supplies - which turned out to be a tiny little store 2 minutes down the road, run by the sweetest simple girl, who just couldn't work out where we were from (by the end of the week we wish we'd tatooed our home countries onto our foreheads!). Our fond hope of croissants for breakfast was soon shattered, although it did supply fabulous homemade rasberry jam. We were giggling helplessly, especially when we realised the only alcohol they had was beer and alcho-pops. Disaster!

We zoomed off down the road in search of 'Gladys', our nearest destination for hard liquor (well, wine!), which was just as amusing as it was about the size of a postage stamp and full of curiosities; not least 'Lee' who took a liking to Emma's hair and was disgusted that we were buying litre boxes of wine. Em was convinced he was a serial killer who would follow us home ......... but that's another story.

The next morning we set off in search of Beaver Mountain - it claimed to be Utah's best kept secret, and it was!!! We absolutely loved it, especially the incredibly friendly 'lifties' who always made our day with some good chat! A big shout especially to Marshall - who always kept us smiling and who we all missed massively once we'd left.

The weather really smiled on us - the sun kept shining and we could eat lunch outside, it was so mild. The conditions were also great; really good runs and nice and groomed! I don't like unexpected bumps! Ali and I improved our skills whilst our 'Little Beaver' (Em) valiently ploughed on down the bunny slope. Ali and I spent the best part of two days trying to find the fourth ski-lift; at one point we took a wrong turn and ended up half a mile down the road, having to take off our skis and walk back to base!

Our last skiing day (Wednesday) dawned snowy and grey, and in fact it snowed all day, smacking into our faces, obscuring our view and generally making life difficult! I was feeling rough by then so curled up in the car while Em and Ali made a last triumphant run down 'Little Beaver' mountain! So sad to leave!

Set off the next morning for SLC, dropped off the car and headed downtown to our hotel. What a romantic Valentine's evening we spent (Ali and I were meant to be on a date but Em gatecrashed due to being stood up by poor Sharon who was too poorly to fly out and join us) at 'Squatter's' brewpub. Some poor airpost security man had made the error of telling us we looked like we were in a British band, and so there was no stopping us - suddenly we were telling everyone (well, I was!) that we were 'Celtic Rock', a rock band touring round the States! Em drew us matching Celtic tatoos and there was much silliness and tomfoolery! Checked out a few more drinking establishments ............ I'll leave it there, for now!!

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Friday 8th Feb at Grey Island Goose

We celebrated the end of our Spring half term with a few bevvies at our new local, Grey Goose Island (or named something like that?!). I sampled the cider - very strong! After half a bottle I was slumped over John and slurring! Sorry John!

Our colourful hallway

Our colourful hallway



At School

Here are some photos of the new school, and pictures of our lovely view from the 6th floor roof top terrace. It doesn't do it justice, because it looks grey and gloomy. I think it will be fab in the summer though!

The cozy corner!

The cozy corner!

View from roof-top playground

View from roof-top playground
Hancock Tower