Friday, July 31, 2009


What is everyone doing tonight?

Neill's band, Ready The Destroyer, is playing the Double Door. They go on at exactly 9:45. Rumor has it that there will be burlesque dancers before and after their set.

Come say hi!

Thursday, July 30, 2009


I'll admit it. i was intrigued by the smoke and mirrors.

Well, really just the smoke. No mirrors to speak of.

Plus one point for having a "cream soda" flavor. Yum. Minus one point, however, because I was encouraged to pair it with pomegranate. Perhaps it was my mistake for following their advice? But, I was so overwhelmed by all of their options that I just followed their directions blindly.

The end result was light and fruity. The ice-cream was not very creamy or rich, so it was easy to eat the whole cup. And I felt their "small" size was very generous.

Downside? 5 dollars for a small!!! That is some expensive so-so ice-cream.

I am somewhat interested in finding out about the hot pudding though. I do love me some puddin'.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

blue doors

always lead somewhere magnificent.

Secondprint Productions

My fiance and I met with Albert of Secondprint Productions to talk about photography for our wedding. When we were doing our research, he was one photographer that stood out to both of us. His pictures are simply striking. He does a great job catching the moment and the colors in his pictures really pop. To top it all off, he is extremely friendly and laid back! This is a huge plus when you think about how much time you actually spend with your photographer on the wedding day. Any couple looking for stylish colorful photos should check out Albert's work!

Kelli Ward Photography

My fiance and I met with Kelli to talk about photography options for our upcoming wedding. When I was researching wedding photographers, Kelli's website really caught my eye. So, even though she is definitely at the tippy tippy top of our budget (aka way above), I just had to meet with her to see if it was something I just could not live with out.

One thing that really stands out about Kelli is how professional she is. She came prepared with thoughtful questions, handouts, and lots of examples of her work. She was also very upfront about her policy of holding dates and what not. While sometimes its a bit awkward to talk about, I appreciate people being upfront about it. She has been a full time wedding photographer for years now, so she really has things down to a science. And I don't even want to start thinking about how beautiful her albums are. Swoon. Big thick pages. Beautiful layout. These things are DELUXE.

In the end, we didn't feel like our personalities and the sort of wedding we want to have would be a good match with Kelli. But, I still encourage others to check out her work. She knows what she is doing!

The Allerton Hotel

We had a walk through today at The Allerton Hotel with someone from their sales department to learn more about booking a block of rooms for our out of town wedding guests.

+Stylish lobby with a mod looking lounge (which they said they could keep open for us if we wanted to have an after-party)
+nice fitness center. Lots of brand new equipment. Lots of windows.
+Stylish rooms
+The Venetian room is breathtaking and would be such a beautiful location for a Sunday brunch
+Quoted us a very competitive rate for our block

-wireless internet is not complimentary in the rooms
-parking is about 45 dollars a day (to leave the car overnight)
-rooms are on the small-ish side.
-to reserve more than 15 rooms, we would become liable for paying 85% of the cost of any unused rooms. If you only do 15 and then try to ask more on later, you risk the hotel being full or the rate going up. its sort of a Catch 22.

Really beautiful hotel with a nice boutique feel!

Monday, July 27, 2009

It is beginning to look a lot like Christmas

Now that I've shared with you where Neill and I will be exchanging vows and then partying away the night, I'm so relieved to finally be able to share our amazingly wonderful photographer with you. Meet Alix Klingenberg. Cue swooning.

Believe me, this was a hard thing to keep from you. But I really really really wanted to tell you about Volo first and so I had to keep my lips sealed. You know how hard that is for me. But now I can squeal to my hearts delight! Through this post I'm going to dazzle you with her delightful and beautiful photographs so you can see for yourself how great of a find she is!

Now, from the top!

I knew from the beginning that our wedding photography was one of the most important things to me. I was willing to compromise on my dress, but I was NOT willing to go with a photographer that I didn't feel 100% confident in. So with this in mind, Neill and I gave each other a homework assignment. Mission? Go our separate ways and do as much online research on photographers as we could stand and then present our findings to each other at a designated time. This worked for us for two big reasons. It gave us time to each develop our own opinion and it was very helpful to have a scheduled meeting time to talk wedding. Our final compiled list had 15 people on it!

After looking at so many pictures we decided that we wanted a photographer with a photojournalistic style. Someone who could capture what was going on and not just rely on posed moments was definitely important to us. But, we also knew that very few people look good in true candid shots. So, we wanted a photographer who could help people look their best while also letting their natural smiles and personalities shine through.

As much as we wanted pictures of the ceremony and our guests having fun at the ceremony, it was equally important to us to have a photographer who took beautiful couple shots. Again, we wanted to look like a naturally beautiful version of ourselves.

Another quality that was important to us was the post-processing style. After doing so much research, it became evident that the perfect shot was only half of stunning wedding photographer. The other half? Post processing. With each photographer having a somewhat different style, we wanted to make sure to pay attention to what styles we liked. Some photographers over-saturated all of their colors to really makes things look edgy and pop, other photographers made all of their photographs looks old and vintage, and others went for a more natural look. I tended to like a mix between the natural looking and more whimsical or vintage pictures and so that is something we kept an eye out for.

Of course, we could not ignore price. Some of the photographers on our list would have cost us almost 6,000 dollars for everything we wanted! Umm . . . no thank you! And while these photographers had slick websites, we didn't feel heir pictures were noticeably different than the less expensive options. So we set out looking for a photographer who offered a package of 10 hours of photography, a second shooter, all images on a DVD for us to use as we please, an engagement session, a big flush mounted photo-album. We also asked about what the rates would be to make a photo-album for our parents as well.

Even considering how important all of these factors are, perhaps the deciding personality was personality. Both Neill and I really liked Alix upon first meeting her. She came prepared to the meeting and was professional, but also at the same time completely down to earth and friendly. We just *clicked* and I felt like I could be myself around her. I definitely picked up some hippy crunchy vibes from her and you know how much I lover the hippies. She is fabulous and I might have a friend crush on her.

So there you have it friends! I can't wait for our engagement shoot!

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Cafe Con Leche

nom nom nom nom

I've been to this place twice now and I left completely satisfied both times. And, if you read my reviews, you know that is hard to do.

The service here is  . . . relaxed. (Psss - that is the nice way of saying it). Sometimes this can totally ruin a place for me, but how can you not enjoy munching on yummy chips and smokey, creamy salsa while staring at the pretty hanging star lanters?!? It is just one of those places.

So go. Relax. Chill out. Order a koala champagne or coco rico. Or bring a six pack of your favorite beer. And then order the steak sandwich. Seriously delicious. I had it a few days ago and I'm already desperately craving another one. And then smile when you see your bill because you are so happy that your total is so low :)

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

emphasis on equality

great thread over at 2000 dollar wedding on how to take a stand for marriage equality at your wedding.

Someone posted an excerpt from the MA Supreme Court ruling that is just so touching. Have you read this before?
From Goodridge v. Dept. Of Public Health,
introduction by Massachusetts Supreme Court
Chief Justice Margaret H. Marshall:
"Marriage is a vital social institution. The exclusive
commitment of two individuals to each other nurtures love
and mutual support. Civil marriage is at once a deeply
personal commitment to another human being and a highly
public celebration of the ideals of mutuality, companionship,
intimacy, fidelity, and family. Because it fulfils yearnings for
security, safe haven, and connection that express our
common humanity, civil marriage is an esteemed institution
and the decision whether and whom to marry is among life's
momentous acts of self-definition. It is undoubtedly for these
concrete reasons, as well as for its intimately personal
significance, that civil marriage has long been termed a
"civil right." Without the right to choose to marry one is
excluded from the full range of human experience."

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

June 12, 2010

Hello lovelies!

I'd like to introduce you to Volo Restaurant & Wine Bar! Not only is this a great neighborhood spot with delicious food and inspiring wine, but it also just happens to be the location of our wedding! Hip! Hip! Hooray!

This has been in the works for some time now and we finally made it official last Friday. Yes! We are for real getting married!

We chose Volo because . . .
+outdoor and indoor space
+vintage and rustic influences
+yummy food & drink
+intimate setting
+located right in Roscoe Village
+reasonable price

All in all, everything just clicked! I'm so excited to share this with you and even more excited for next year!

David's Bridal on Elston Avenue

I am not the least bit embarrassed to write a fabulous review of David's Bridal. I don't know why they should get such a bad rap. I say - good for them! Why should wedding dresses be thousands and thousands of dollars? Doesn't everyone, no matter what price point they are looking at, deserve to look beautiful on their wedding day?

I went to David's Bridal today to try on wedding dresses for the first time. I brought my mom and three friends with me for emotional support and, of course, opinions. We worked with Brittanie and she was FABULOUS. If we had ended up working with someone who was pushy, suggesting awful dresses, and/or rude, I'm sure my experience would have been completely different. Luckily, Brittanie is incredibly sweet and really seemed to get my personal style. She was also very patient and didn't make me feel pressured at all. When I called I had the option to request someone to work with, and I suggest requesting her if you don't have someone in mind you would like to be paired with.

The appointment lasted the full hour and half. In that time I tried on a bunch of dresses! Brittanie brought my the dresses I requested, but I ended up liking her suggestions even more! I found about 3 to 4 dresses that I really liked. One strapless lace dress in particular really stole my heart. On the plus side, it was on sale for under 500 dollars! On the down side, it had been discontinued and so I would have to order the dress ASAP. Because it was my first time shopping and my wedding is just under a year away, I chose to walk away from the dress. Maybe I'll go back in a few days and try it on again, but I just couldn't commit right then. And to her credit, Brittanie never made me feel awkward about this!

I would recommend David's Bridal to anyone looking for a wedding dress. Even if you don't end up buying your dress there, they have so many dresses in so many different styles its a great place to try on lots of wedding dresses. You never know, you might find *the one*.

Monday, July 20, 2009

Harry Potter!

I finally saw the new Harry Potter movie.


When we were leaving the movie, I heard someone commenting that not much really happened for most of the movie. I've got to say, I agree.

But yet, still enrapturing.

I also have lots of exciting wedding posts coming up. Because let's face it, planning this wedding is right now the most interesting thing in my life. I assume this will change when I start school again. Topics to be covered in the coming days are:

1. Finalizing a location!
2. Finalizing a photographer!
3. First wedding dress shopping experience!
4. Out of town guest planning!

Now to work out or not to work out . . . .that is the question. Hmm. I need some inspiration.

Damn. Look at those guns. If I'm going to wear a big white strapless dress and not look like I'm auditioning for the part of a marshmallow, I should probably go to the gym tonight.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Bar Louie (Evanston)

Man oh man. I'm one of those lame-ohs that actually likes Bar Louie. Before the one on Damen closed, it was pretty easy to guess where I would be on any given Tuesday Night . . . Dollar Burgers!

Now that our Bar Louie is closed, when we need a fix we venture to the Bar Louie in Evanston. The great thing about chains is that they are all the same! Like most people mentioned, dollar burger night tends to get BUSY. So please, don't come here at peak dinner hour with a big group of people. That just isn't using your head.

The main thing about this Bar Louie is that it is chalk full of college kids. Now, some might find this terribly obnoxious. I, on the other hand, like to look at it as an opportunity to relive my college days. Who doesn't want to travel back in time and be a young coed again? And don't even get me started on those hot young college studs . . .  .  rawr

Red Mango (Evanston)

nom nom nom nom nom nom nom nom

soooooooooooo delicious and refreshing. AND GUILT FREE!!!!!!!!! Wooohooo!!!!!!!!!

Only downsides? only two tables in the whole joint and about a dollar too expensive.

Potbelly's Sandwich Works (Wicker Park)

Eating Potbelly's is like going home. In fact, if they had televisions that played Law and Order: SVU I would be very tempted to make this place home.

Because, seriously, what more do you need than a wreck, salt and vinegar chips, and one of their delicious (diet) cream sodas. food orgasm in my mouth. I suggest starting with a few bites of the wreck, then move to a swig of cream soda, and top it off with a chip or two. Enjoy and repeat.

If you want to treat yourself, get one of their big soft cookies. And if you *really* want to treat yourself, get one of their luscious ice cream sandwiches made aforementioned cookies.

Sea Ranch

Boo. I thought I had the chance of being the first to review Sea Ranch, but apparently I'm one of the last to know. Hrm . . .guess I have to make it to Evanston more often.

I LOVED Sea Ranch. As Chris C. noted, this isn't a date night spot or some fancy shmancy sushi joint. Sea Ranch is primarily a grocery store. You can buy fresh fish, spices, and lots of yummy dessert items like Pocky and those little chocolate panda bears. It also happens to be a GREAT lunch spot or quick bite any time of day spot.

The ramen is oh so fabulous. I was so impressed by the pork broth  . . . so rich and tasty. This is not the ramen you ate in college (and possibly still eat . . . shame on you)! The ramen came with some california rolls that seemed really fresh. While we were primarily going to Sea Ranch to try their ramen, next time I think it will be a sushi run. They have an all you can eat deal for 20 bucks that seems like the route to go. Everyone at your table has to order it, so bring some hungry friends! nom nom nom.


This place is an okay option for dinner in Evanston. i don't know if LuLu's is actually a chain or it just takes it cues from Big Bowl, but LuLu's is definitely aiming to please the masses. It is comfortable and the food is straight forward. With all the great thai food in Chicago (and Evanston!), I'm not sure I would really come back here though.

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Friday, July 17, 2009

Paging All Martha Stewart Lovers

a one year subscription to Real Simple is on sale right now on amazon for FIVE DOLLARS.

check it.

Cage and Aquarium Productions

Woohoo! I can't say enough good things about Tyler and Cage & Aquarium. Our wedding isn't until next summer, but I am confident that the music will be awesome!

Tyler was the first DJ we met with and both my fiance and I really appreciated how he managed to be laid back AND professional at the same time. He did a great job of explaining what Cage and Aquarium is all about, was interested in hearing about us and our musical tastes, and answered all of our questions in a thoughtful manner. He gave us a very helpful packed of materials to take home (I'm a sucker for handouts) and then, after the meeting, was extremely responsive to our e-mails. To top it all off, when we needed just a little bit more time to decide Tyler nicely extended our hold - twice!

At this point, the music for our reception is about the only thing I'm not stressing about!

Running of the Brides

Should I go to this? Is this the best or the worst idea?

Thursday, July 16, 2009


from marth stewart . . . who else?

why are anemones so freaking beautiful? They have such a naughty and nice feel. rawr.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Its all coming together

All of a sudden and seemingly out of the blue, our wedding is finally coming together!

Location? Check!
Music? Check!
Photographer? Almost check

Next up will be the flowers and then we will really be in business.

We still have to decide on a feel or theme or colors or whatever though. I'm sort of torn between this or this or this or this or this . . . .what is a girl to do?

Help me!

[all images from snippet & ink]

Fat Willy's Rib Shack

This place is a lot nicer than I thought it was going to be.

How is that for a ringing endorsement?

Seriously though - I liked the ambiance of the laid back, country bbq joint. But, the food was just not as good as Carson's. And there is no free chopped liver here. In fact, there is NOTHING free here. No bread on the table. 75 cents extra if you want a nonhouse salad dressing. 3 dollar charge for sharing a meal. lame.

I ordered one of their "baskets" that came with half slab of baby back ribs, steak fries, and texas toast. The fries and toast were gross. Maybe I should have sprung and paid the extra fee for the cornbread. The ribs were pretty good. But, as a said, not as good as Carson's. The meat was a little dry. The sauce not as delicious.

We also ordered dessert - The pecan chocolate pie was pretty good. Loading it with whip cream may have been an attempt to hide what a ridiculously small piece they give you. But, we didn't want to complain because the whole table was a little scared of our waitress.

Nothing like a little bit of fear to make us lose our appetite.

Monday, July 13, 2009

just another manic monday

Last night Neill and I headed over to Gracie's parents' house to join them in celebrating their 30th wedding anniversary. A few weeks ago, I was talking to Cindy (gracie's mom) and I asked her to share what her secret is to such a long, successful marriage. She took a moment to think and then said, quite seriously, "Well, I give in to him a lot". What an honest answer! While I don't mean to take a passing comment and turn it into a manifesto, I do think that there is truth in this answer. For marraiges to work, sometimes someone has to give in. You can't always have your way.

I'm still trying to find the fun in selflessness.

But in all seriousness, this post is dedicated to all the happy couples out there who have made it work for years and years and years. Through the thick and thin. Through the ups and downs. Through everything and anything. Cheers!

p.s - is the thick the good times? or is it the thin?

El Taquito

This place is A-OK in my book. Definitely a good alternative to some of the fast food joints in the area. Like Yuly, I noticed their awesomely cheap lunch specials but never made it there on times.

The tacos are quick
the bear is cold
and the flies are minimal.


Avenue Isla Verde
Carolina, PR 00913

Best meal in Isla Verde!

I'm so glad I followed all of the Yelpers advice and checked out Metropol for dinner! It might look a bit sketch being next to a big cock fighting ring (or maybe thats a plus for you - i don't know), but YOU SHOULD GO THERE.

+huge menu
+good service
+tasty food
+cheap prices
+walking distance

Just do it! 


My last review related to my trip to Puerto Rico is dedicated (and of) Aguaviva for being so delicious.

First, I will say, that Aguaviva is a bit full of themselves. They have a sign in their window that shorts are not allowed and that you must be at least 24 to sit at the bar. Normally, I really prefer not to go to these sorts of places.

But, it was our last night in San Juan and I had packed a dress so we figured we might as well go somewhere that my dress would be appreciated.

Of course, when we got there I looked around and saw tons of people in shorts and (surprisingly) tons of men wearing base-ball caps. Apparently, their dress code is not strictly enforced.

Oh well - at least I looked fabulous.

Now, on to the main event -- the food!

We started with a ceviche tasting. We ordered two for something like 17 dollars. Pricey? yes. Delicious and refreshing? yes. Worth it? yes.
For our main dishes, I had a sea food risotto with seared Dover scallops and my fiance had a halibut with a lobster stew topping. Each cost 29 dollars and both of them were fantastic.  Because we are heffers, we also ordered a side of cheesy bread. Yes, that it what they call it. While we had way too much food, the cheesy bread was great. Our mates ordered a side of the lobster mashed potatoes which were also a nice compliment to the sea food. Ah the decadence! Unfortunately, we were all too stuffed to order dessert.

This was by far the best meal we had while in San Juan. The ambiance was nice. The service was good. And the food was tasty. It was the perfect place to celebrate our last night in PR.

Sunday, July 12, 2009


i don't think I ever mentioned this before, but I yelp.

as in, i write reviews of people and places on yelp.
as in, i am a yelper.

And apparently, my reviews are yelptastic because I was just asked to join the Yelp Elite Squad.

I'm pretty excited :)

So maybe once in a while you would want to read my reviews too? Or maybe this will inspire you to join yelp and start writing reviews of your own? If so, let's be yelp friends!

Friday, July 3, 2009

bon voyage!

Goodbye my lovelies! We are leaving for Puerto Rico bright and early tomorrow morning. I hope everyone has a fabulous July 4th weekend. I know I'm looking forward to pina coladas by the pool, swimming in the ocean, and exploring old San Juan.