Monday, March 29, 2010

Mad Girl tries to eat healthy (or 'Please don't hate me when I snap at you, i'm just hungry')

I have a few bad habits that I really need to kick. You'll be shocked to find out that I am not a healthy eater. I like the idea of eating healthy, but in practice I get really lazy and go for the quick and easy option. Even though I don't eat salads there are a lot of other options out there for me that I'm sure would leave me feeling full and happy. I got to thinking about my poor eating choices yesterday when I went to Potbelly for lunch. I have been trying to bring Lean Cuisine or other frozen meal options to work with me, but when i get lazy I just opt for the easy route and eat out. Also, I feel like I cold eat 3 of these and am always hungry a few hours after eating my frozen meal. I see a lot of my employees making nice healthy lunches and enjoying them on their breaks, but I can't seem to get my act together. So I am going to make it my goal to bring my lunch 4 days a week and eat out only 1 day. I'd like to make at least 2-3 of these meals at home. What I need are some good lunch ideas. I don't eat sandwiches or salads so this limits some of my options. I'm thinking about prepping a weeks worth of grab and go meals and see how that does. I'm sure I can come up with some yummy options for my busy work day.

The other nasty habit I have to kick is eating late at night. For example, last night I got off work and was really hungry. Instead of dipping into my fruit box I ate Cheddar Bunnies and a tortilla smothered in cheese. Clearly not the healthiest late night option. Why can't I just eat healthy? I blame it on my Polish heritage. I grew up eating meats and carbs and my family was always talking about the next meal. Growing up I had access to tons of snacks and leaned to eat because I was bored or stressed and not because I was hungry.

This is one of those vices that I have to work on. I don't work out (unless you count sex) and I refuse to give up my cocktails so I clearly need to start making smarting decisions when it comes to what I eat. Does anyone have any recipes or tips they would like to share with me? Oh, and don't worry about me turning into one of those creatures who only consumes carrot sticks and diet coke -not going to happen.

Friday, March 26, 2010

Bachelor #2

Last Sunday I went on a date with Bachelor #2. This was our first time meeting and even though I was really hitting it off with Bachelor #1, I thought I should give this other guy a try. So, I end up meeting him at this bar I've always wanted to go to, The Map Room. He had clearly impressed me with the location and I thought that maybe Bachelor #1 would have some competition. Not the case.

I showed up and found him sitting at a table. I was slightly dissapoined because he was not as cute as the pictures he had posted. I sat down and introduced myself and we started talking. Actually, he started talking and I just listened becoming more and more aware that i was sans beer. After about 15 minutes of him rambling on about himself I ask him if there was a cocktail waitress and he takes my cue and goes to the bar to get us our drinks. This is point in the night where I realize that I would be enjoying myself way more if I was out with B1. I figure that after the first drink I'll just head home. However, things start to get better and it turns out that he is really into craft beer. I decided to stay for a second drink.

B2 wasn't a bad person, but he just lacked that drive and passion that I look for in a guy. He is 35 and does a lot of freelance music work. He spends time doing sound for bands and often travels on the road with out pay. It didn't take me long to realize that he was just a grown up hipster. After our second round he invited me to move on to another bar where some of his friends were at. I was having a decent time so I thought that i would give it whirl, but I now realize that i probably should have just left it at that. The second bar was fine and his friends seemed really great. We continued to have great conversation, but the attraction was just not there.

B2 called a few days ago and said he had a really good time and wanted to hang out again. Sadly, I had to send out my first turn down e-mail. I sent him a brief note, thanking him for the good time, but explaining that things had gotten serious with someone else I was dating. B1 and I have moved on to the dating and sex phase of our relationship. I just wouldn't feel comfortable dating anyone else right now and I honestly don't want to date anyone besides B1. Oh, and just so you know, B1 did remove his shirt and there was nothing to be frightened of.

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Bachelor #1

Yesterday was the first time in eons that I actually brought a date somewhere. This was my third date with this guy (we will call him Bachelor #1) and I invited him to an art gallery for a friend's opening exhibit. Bachelor #1 and I are getting along really swimmingly and I have to say that I like where things are heading. He was able to carry himself well and hold up his end of the conversation.

After the gallery we went to see the Cowboy Junkies at the Old Town School of Folk Music ( This was my first time at the venue and the place impressed me with their selection of awesome brews (I had the Great Lakes Porter) and amazing accoustics. I wasn't too familiar with the Cowboy Junkies, but they absolutely blew me away. The lead singer has a voice that is just mesmerizing and I sat through the show in a trance. I also have to say that the music was quite a turn on and I found myself imagining what it would be like to get Bachelor #1 in bed.

After the show we went to the Fiddlehead cafe where i had a PBR with Hum. I was a little leery at first, but this was a winning combination. Our conversation continued to flow and i was hoping he'd invite me back to his place. However, the night only ended with a kiss. I guess this is for the best because I may have rushed into things with Aquaman. I told myself that I wasn't going to invite a guy over or go to his place until after three dates - well Bachelor #1 and I have hit the 3 day mark so I think it might be time for cocktail hour at my apartment. Guess this means I will actually have to clean my apartment.

Last night I also got to thinking about how Bachelor #1 is the exact opposite of Aquaman and most of the other guys I've been interested in. He's 8 years older than me for one, but I think that is the right age. We also see eye to eye on a lot of things like politics, food and drink and kids. He dislikes kids and most especially their obnoxious parents just as much as I do. It's rather endearing. What I like most about this whole dating thing is that I finally have someone to join me on my adventures. No man (or woman) is an island and I feel like I've been living in isolation for too long.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Darlin' Clementine

I finally tracked down a bottle of Hum ( which is this amazing botanical spirit. Hum is fantastic on it's own with notes of hibiscus, ginger and cardamom. However, I decided to mix a cocktail with it.

Darlin' Clementine
2 oz hum
juice of 2 clementines
rose water
ginger ale

Shake hum and clementine juice together. Rinse a chilled glass with rose water. Add hum and clementine mixture and top with ginger ale.

***I recently went to a bar where they were serving hum mixed with PBR and it was actually really good. I didn't thinking anything could make PBR taste good.

Friday, March 12, 2010

Laundry and Lebanese

Not a really eventful day for me. I slept in late, piddled around on the computer for a few hours and then finally found the motivation to do a load of laundry. I'm not much of a housekeeper, but I felt I had to force myself to clean up a little bit since I would be back to work soon. I did get to watch Away We Go and was really impressed with Maya Rudolph. This is a delightful movie and I'm sorry I didn't watch it sooner. I'd really like to see Maya in some more films like this because she is a talented actress.

My outing for today was dinner in Albany Park. I'm so used to staying in my neighborhood and Albany Park seems like outer space to me, but I had a Groupon for Semiramis ( This is a fantastic Lebanese restaurant that I highly recommend. I'd seen it featured on Check Please and have always had it on my list of places to eat. The food was fantastic and the ingredients were high quality. I really loved the hummus and baba ghanosh - could have easily eaten just that for dinner. I also had this really great coffee that was flavored with cardamon and of course there was baklava - yum. It really made me want to try my hand at some of these basic dishes. It really can't be that hard and it'd be a lot healthier way to eat.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

First Mate to First Date

Today's adventure started out with what I thought was going to be a restful afternoon at the Shedd Aquarium ( I imagined myself wandering around the aquarium lost in a daze and enjoying the tranquility of a myriad of fish gliding through the water. I was sorely mistaken. Apparently it was Bing Your Unruly Innercity Child to the Aquarium Day. Among some of the awesome behavior I saw: knocking on the glass of the tanks, taking photos using the flash, yelling, screaming, running, unattended elementary aged children and popcorn spilt on the floor and left for someone else to clean up. The other bizarre things is that as I wandered to each tank I couldn't help but think how delicious some of these fish would taste and have since been craving seafood. I only ended up staying for a little over an hour because i was so annoyed by all of this. I got to see everything in the aquarium ,but did not get to enjoy myself or linger as I had planned. It's a god thing my evening more than made up for my bad afternoon at the Aquarium.

Tonight I had my first date with one of the guys I met on Okcupid. He seemed pretty promising and we deiced to meet at Sticky Rice Thai ( restaurant where we ordered the caterpillars as an appetizer. They did look like caterpillars, but when you ate them they were crunchy, not gooey like I expected. Also, they were friend in oil so that made them bit oily for me, but all in all they did not taste bad. Sort of like eating some sort of oily puffed snack. For my entree I ordered a Thai style omelet made with ant eggs. You honestly couldn't taste the eggs because they were so tiny and mixed in with the eggs. I think they were mainly there for protein. After a great dinner (and even better conversation) we headed to a pub where my date impressed me by ordering two very good types of scotch. Adventurous eating and good scotch? This guy certainly knows the way to my heart.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Culinary Day

Today's adventure started at Merchandise Mart. I attended a much anticipated knife skills class at the Chopping Block ( I've started to cook more lately, but realize that I am sorely lacking some basic skills. I also hate to do prep work and I thought that if I was more comfortable with my slicing and dicing skills I'd be more willing to get in the kitchen and cook. I was also looking forward to purchasing a big girl knife. The class did not disappoint. I learned all the basics from how to select and care for a knife to how to julian a carrot. Most importantly, I learned how to cut an onion - finally! The instructor used to work for Food Network and Bobby Flay so that earned her some cool points. What I really love about the class is that you get the opportunity to try out many different varieties of chef's knifes and see which one works best for you. I learned that I really like the Japanese Global knives because they are light weight and slice like a dream. After the class I purchased a Global knife for $80. This is a bit of an investment, but a good knife will list you forever if you care for it properly. I got the kind with the little scallops on the edges because these make it harder for veggies to stick to the blade when you cut. I also picked up a dough cutter/veg scraper to make for easier gathering.

After the cooking class I headed to Xoco ( Xoco is Rick Bayless's third restaurant and is focused on street food. It's meant to be a place to grab a quick lunch. The menu consists mostly of tortas, but damn are they amazing. I had the special of the day which had pork belly and bacon on it. All the ingredients are of the highest quality and so fresh that I wanted to moan while eating my sandwich. I thought I'd have to wait, but it looks like the hype is gone and I was seated immediately. It's counter service, but they have a really good seating set up so customers aren't left standing waiting for a seat. I highly recommend this and will most certainly be returning.

Okay, third stop on my adventure was seeing Alice in Wonderland in 3-D. I really enjoy going to an afternoon movie by myself - something I rarely do. The movie was a visual feast, but I would have expected nothing less. So, on to my final stop - Drinks Over Dearborn ( This is a liquor shop that I've wanted to check out for a while. They have the perfect selection of liquor, beer and wine. I was really impressed by their selection of bitters and wines under $10. I picked up a few craft beers and a bottle of Hum which I plan to partake in tonight. I'm definitely going to make this my new stop for stocking up on supplies. All in all, a damn good day filled with a lot of firsts. Stay tuned for my next adventure -it promises to be a wet one...

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Pure Bliss and Getting Pissed

What do an afternoon at the spa and an Irish pub crawl have in common? Nothing except the fact that I partook in both today. Since today is the first 'official' day of my vacation I decided to start things off with a relaxing afternoon at the Aveda Institute( All the treatments are done by students so you get the great quality of Aveda products for half the price. I decided to do the Caribbean Body Treatment ($50). This treatment involves a dry exfoliation, mud wrap and then you are massaged under jets of water - it's the best of all worlds. I walked out of there loose as a goose after having all the stress pummeled out of me. After my treatment I got my hair cut ($14) and this included a scalp and neck massage. You can't beat the Aveda Institute for a cheap spa day. I also picked up some of their detoxifying tea and one of their singular note oils that is supposed to help energize me when I inhale it. We'll see how this works, but I'm willing to give it a try.

The second part of my day was an Irish Pubs of Chicago History Pub Crawl through the Chicago History Museum ( The tours meet at the museum where everyone boards a trolley and get carted to 4 pubs all the cost of $25. On the way you get some light history and then when you arrive you get a half an hour to drink. My favorite place was O'Shaughnessy's, but I have to say that all these bars were fantastic and worth the visit. What made O'Shaughnessy's so cool was that that it was completly built by Irish hands (except the bar which came from Canada). All the workers were Chicago Irish and I think this gives it a nice community feel. I have to say that the bathrooms here were really clean as well - like freakishly clean. Below are the pubs we visited and I do recommend stopping by if you are in the mood for a little authentic Irish in the city, but be sure to invite me if you do!

Celtic Crossings
751 N. Clark

Celtic Crown
4301 N. Western

4557 N. Ravenswood

Johnny O' Hagans's
3374 N. Clark St

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Koval brunch and the Modern Wing

Today was my pre-game warm-up to my week ahead. My friends and I went to a brunch featuring food and cocktails made with Koval distillery products. ( Koval is a local distillery and I highly recommend you check them out. The brunch was at Terzo Piano (, the restaurant in the new modern wing of the Art Institute and consisted of 3 courses each paired with a cocktail. It was all very tasty and I can't wait to pick up some Pear Brandy and Rose Hip Liquor from Koval. Afterwards my friend and I wandered around the modern wing where I discovered I really like the photographer William Eggleston

This is the modern wing

Inside the modern wing
The Bean

Friday, March 5, 2010

Mad Girl takes a vacation

Well, after some much needed rest I'm back in business. I've healed up pretty well, but am still not functioning at 100% Mad Girl capacity. However, I have been able to work wine back into my diet (can you believe I went without booze for 14 days!!!!) without any negative side effects.

But enough about my medical drama! I've got a vacation on the horizon (a much needed vacation I might add). This Sunday kicks off a week of fun, excitement and hopefully some cocktails in the wonderful city of Chicago. I know what you're thinking -don't I already live in Chicago? I have decided to take the week to create some adventures in my own home town. There will be everything from a cooking class to the St. Pats Parade to a visit to the Frank Lloyd Wright house in Oak Park.

The fun starts on Sunday so expect daily updates with all the details.