Sunday, September 13, 2009

Taste of Greece 2009

My knowledge of the Greek language may be very limited, but I can certainly appreciate a huge variety of Greek food. Before dating M, I never knew much about this unique and fascinating culture aside from what I learned by watching My Big Fat Greek Wedding (which now, in hindsight, is eerily accurate). I knew nothing about the food.

We had the rehearsal dinner for our wedding at The Parthenon, the humorously-named Chicago restaurant that purports to be the birthplace of the flaming saganaki (cheese) that is portrayed so often in pop culture references to Greek food. I'm not sure if that claim is true or not, but nonetheless, the night was full of family, fun and great food!

At our rehearsal dinner, looking a wee bit nervous

I hadn't had Greek food in almost a year, so we were both very excited about the afternoon that lay before us.

Behold, Taste of Greece, which is held every year on Halstead Street outside the long row of Greek restaurants in Greek Town. It has tent after blue-and-white tent of food, music, retail vendors, food, loud Greek singers, food and other interesting sights.

We could hardly even decide which restaurant to choose, as there must have been about 30+ food vendors offering the best of Greek cuisine. Gyros, mousaka, dolmades, lamb/chicken/pork souvlaki (kebobs), baklava, Greek yogurt, Greek beer, Greek wine, avgolemono, spanakopita, Greek salads ... basically anything you could want. (If you don't know what most of that list was, don't feel bad ... I didn't either until I started getting to know M's family!)

We had come to the festival with the intent of just "stopping by" for lunch, but once we realized the variety of foods that were being offered there, we knew we were in for a full afternoon.

I decided on the Greek seafood platter. You can't really tell from this picture, but this plate includes lobster meat, crab meat, squid and shrimp on a bed of rice, marinated with seasonal peppers and topped with a Greek Salad with tsatsiki sauce. On the side was some flat bread and a dolmade.

Now I'm not one of those people who has issues with their food touching other foods, but I was admittedly a little overwhelmed by mountain of grub. And for good reason. As it turns out, the food was such a huge portion that I actually left lobster meat on the plate.

::hangs head in shame::

Yes, my friends, in case you missed that, I DIDN'T FINISH ALL THE LOBSTER MEAT THAT WAS GIVEN TO ME. Considering I only eat lobster maybe once or twice a year, even non-seafood-eater M agreed that this was a tragic waste - but I just couldn't eat anymore because everything on the plate was so delicious! I was beyond stuffed.

M chose some beef and lamb souvlaki with some pita bread on the side, and went to town on the scrumptous red meat he usually only eats in moderation! He made more progress on his plate than I did, but neither of us could finish ours completely. We got way more than we bargained for when we thought we were "stopping by" for a "quick lunch."

After surely sending our poor digestive systems into a tailspin, we decided to go take a long walk around the festival to check out the different Greek vendors and music. Just for old times sake, we had to take this picture:

In front of The Parthenon! Notice how the food isn't out yet, even
though the festival started an hour ago. (They're on Greek time.)

And at last, later in the afternoon, we gave a nod to my heritage and sat outside a nearby Irish pub on Halstead street, watching the crowds go by and enjoy the live music.

Yes Yiamas! (Cheers!)

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

The "Crib" - A Parody of MTV Cribs Featuring Our New Home in Chicago

M poured his heart and soul into our home. Literally, from the time we moved in until the time we had the last belonging in place and the last box unpacked, M worked for hours each day to make sure we had a place that was enjoyable for us and our friends to spend time. I wish I could say I had put half as much effort into our new apartment as he had, but, alas, that would not be true.

Those of you who know me are aware that I am a wee bit of a dork, and sometimes I just get the urge to "create something" - even if that "something" is nerdy and well, awkward. With that in mind, here is the video I shot and edited for M to celebrate the finalization of our new home in Chicago, borrowing a thing or two from MTV Cribs.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Movin' On Up!

Yes, we have arrived in Chicago, and are kinda-sorta-not-really settled in to our new apartment. We left Georgia in a whirlwind during the last week of July, and I arrived to Chicago just in time for one of my good friend B's bachleorette parties.

Me and the beautiful bride-to-be.

The whole gang!

After the festivities of the weekend, it was time to get settled in. We were incredibly lucky to have one of my brothers, my parents, M's brother and M's good friend help us move our boxes. It was funny because a task that took us two more than 24 hours to complete took our whole "moving crew" less than two hours.

One thing we didn't realize was how much downsizing this move would entail. Our loft space in Georgia was incredible: soaring 17-foot ceilings, endless storage space in the basement, drawers and cabinets in every nook and cranny and a spacious closet and bathroom for EACH of us.

Just in case you need a reminder:

Open space galore!

The kitchen and dining area

Us at our dining room table on Christmas Eve in Georgia, toasting with Pointsettas!

We spent HOURS in this kitchen together, making every sort of recipe you could imagine. And it was plenty big enough to strike a pose ;)

M monitoring his first-ever turkey, in our stove that was brand new when we moved in.

MY (yes, I didn't share) walk-in closet

Spare office

Our bedroom, connected with M's bathroom

So, M and I have had it pretty good for the last two years in terms of living space. And when we made the move to our new place, we kind of underestimated the amount of storage space we would need. Not the end of the world by any means, but it has required us to reshuffle the way we used to store our things and has made us very appreciative of the space we do have. (M said many of the places he checked out didn't even have half the space we have here.)

Now, on to the (first round of) pictures.

My favorite part of the house - the front room with stained-glass windows. We have ordered a swivel chair to sit in the front window so I can read and use our laptop while gazing out into the street!

M using his makeshift desk, composed of two camping chairs and a tupperware storage container! Now if our dang couch would just be delivered, you can see the walls and the rest of the room is ready for them.

Our kitchen - by far the most spacious room of the house. You can see the right-hand door that leads out into the backyard and the door on the left that goes into my office. No microwave. And the stove? Let's not get me started.

Table for two! We didn't have enough room to bring along our glass dining room table so we had to downgrade. Are you loving our Christmas snowflake wall art or what?

A picture of the Newberry Library, where we were married those nine short months ago! :)

My office, which is the perfect size for me. I love having my own enclave where I can let all my papers spill everywhere, and I enjoy gazing into the backyard and at a church steeple viewable from my window.

Pretty. Still haven't figured out the name of the church, though.

This room isn't even close to being finished, but will eventually serve as the game room with pinball, board games and darts! Right now it would be more accurately described as "The Craigslist Room" because almost everything in there is waiting to be sold or given away.

All in all our new place is ... cozy. We really feel like newlyweds in this place, not only because of our apartment but because of the fun neighborhood as well! We have been taking walks every day around lunch time (always in non-work clothes) and are pretty certain that we have become that couple who people pass and say, "How does this couple just have time to walk around together during the middle of the day?"

Hi, I'm "Works From Home," and here is my husband, "Unemployed." :)

In all seriousness, we are so happy with this new chapter in our lives ... it's different for sure, but being surrounded by so many of our close friends and family in a great neighborhood makes it all the better.

Next time: All the details about our new neighborhood!

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Southern Thanksgiving in July

Before I get started, I wanted to point out what I came home to on Wednesday -- our "eight month"wedding anniversary. Now M and I are by no means "month-aversary" people and we don't even really make a big deal out of holidays or special dates. As a matter of fact, I can't even tell you our dating anniversaries before we got married (although we do have them written down somewhere). But in honor of us moving and making every effort to clear out the cupboards, M had a little surprise for me.

Twenty-four "countdown cupcakes" for our eight month anniversary and to serve as an advent calendar of sorts to count down to our move. We aren't even halfway through them because there are so many, but they are delicious! M is becoming quite the cook, and we were happy to have one less thing to have to take with us to our new kitchen.

So now ... on to the real highlight of the weekend: Southern Thanksgiving in July! But first, a little background. The sweet hostesses wanted to give us a final goodbye dinner but wanted us to pick the menu. I declined because if I picked it, it would probably be something nobody except for me wanted to eat! So we turned the decision over to M. "Southern Thanksgiving in July"is what he came up with, and the hostesses were all about it. We ate, and ate and ate some more.

Here was the menu:

-Deep-fried turkey with "giblet" gravy
-Corn Casserole
-Sweet potato casserole
-"Dressing" cornbread
-Green beans with bacon
-Mustard & collard greens
-Pecan Pie & Red Velvet Cake
-Sweet tea

I forgot to take pictures before we ate, but here are the remnants:

The 14-pound turkey was amazing. It was cooked in a device called "The Big Easy" which is made by Charbroil and uses "patented Heat Wave infared technology to deliver juicy, crisp, flavorful" turkey. My initial thoughts were that cooking turkey with infrared radiation might not be the most safe approach, but apparently 80% of the sun's rays are infrared, and it is basically a simple form of gentle, invisible, radiant heat. I decided not to think too much about it!

The turkey emerged from the fryer crispy, yet extremely juicy, moist and flavorful. M called it the "Ruth's Chris of turkeys" because it was injected with so much butter. But that's how they roll in the South, and it was delicious! The turkey was by far my favorite and my body loved the once-a-year protein from animal sources! Screw those legumes and nuts I eat all the time. ;)

The aftermath wasn't pretty, but like true Southern women they had the whole kitchen cleaned up about 30 minutes after we were finished. I try to help, but I can't keep up. :)

The talent behind the meal.

The red velvet cake we all definitely didn't need but loved nonetheless

M loving on his sweet baby friend, Lucy!

It was quite the night - great company, amazing food and friends that we will miss dearly after we've made our way back home. The good news is that we can get the recipes to bring some of this Southern goodness up North for our first Thanksgiving back in Chicago! It was a great send-off and we will both think fondly of it during the next couple days when we are moving heavy boxes and eating out of cans!

Saturday, July 18, 2009

New Apartment

We are now the proud renters of this rowhouse in Bucktown! It's a three-flat (obviously) in a great residential neighborhood that is close to a ton of restaurants, shopping and bars in Bucktown and Wicker Park.

Here are the specs: It has a living room (which, apparently, is not standard in some Chicago apartments so I thought it was worth a mention), 1 bedroom, 1 bathroom, closets (!!), a decent-sized kitchen with new appliances and plenty of storage space. I'll also have an walk-in-closet-esque office, but a private office nonetheless that looks out into the backyard! And it's a very short drive to the highway so whenever M gets a job it'll hopefully be a pretty direct commute. One drawback: coin-operated laundry units in the basement. Boo. But compared to some of the other apartments M has seen of late, we'll gladly go without!

Since neither M nor I have never lived in the actual city of Chicago before, we are trying to get to know our new 'hood, courtesy of our old friend Google. Just a quick search has already resulted in a huge list of places we want to try. There's a Cuban restaurant down the street, a Mediterranean place that evidently has the best falafels in the city, and a BYOB sushi place less than 4 blocks away. Oh, and gourmet deep-dish pizza at a place that has live karaoke on Saturday nights (that's karaoke with a BAND, not a recording). And I'm going to *try* to stay out of trouble with all the cute boutiques around.

M has been in Chicago looking for our new place for the last four days straight, so it was a huge relief to him to sign the lease today. I'm ready for him to come home because it's getting a little stir crazy after four days of complete isolation! But I know that the next time I see him, we will be in the single-digit countdown, and we will really need to get in gear to start the move.

Also, I am very excited about next weekend - our last one in Georgia. We are going to dinner with two of our good friends on Friday night, and on Saturday we'll be attending one of the most unique ideas for a dinner party I've ever heard of: Southern Thanksgiving in July. Yes, all the "fixins" of a traditional Thanksgiving in the South, except when it's 95 degrees outside. Who would have thought of such a thing? My "creative" husband, of course! The hosts and contributors are very excited and being really good sports about it, although I guess they have to be because they left the menu request completely up to M! I just might have a little meat because it's such a special occasion -- guess I might as well since all the vegetables are going to be fried in something called "back fat." :) Seriously though, I think the menu will be pretty extraordinary considering the cooking talent that will be contributing.

Not much more to say for now, except that I am glad that decision is out of the way and now we can start looking forward to our new home!

Monday, July 13, 2009

The First Post

Est. 11.22.2008

I've been thinking about starting a blog for a while now, but just haven't really had the time as an MBA student. With our last class 17 short days away, now is the time!

This is the blog to chronicle the life and times of M & E, a newly married couple as of November 22, 2008. We met through a mutual acquaintance (his boss, my mom's best friend from college), fell obnoxiously in love, were engaged within a year and married within two! Ever since we met, we have been fortunate enough to be crazy about each other and we hope this blog will be a place for our family and close friends to read updates on what's new with us.

We are about to embark on a new chapter of our life together ... we are moving to Chicago at the beginning of August 2009! Here we'll share the joys and frustrations of moving, establishing a home in Chicago, M finding a JOB in Chicago (here's hoping!) and me adjusting to working at home. We both will probably have some major transitioning to do here, but we're so excited for what the future brings.

We did receive a bit of good news today - I will be able to stay on with her current employer (based in Georgia) in Chicago! I didn't know if I would receive the appropriate sign-offs from our HR department, but luckily they wanted to keep me on as much as I wanted to stay on. We feel so fortunate to have this job during this time of transition, especially while M is looking to get a new gig. Doesn't it feel good when things just go your way once in a while!?

Hope to hear from you soon! To kick off the blog, we'll post a couple pictures from our recent trip to Blue Ridge, Georgia for the 4th of July. We spent the weekend camped out in a little (okay -HUGE) log home, tubing on the Ocoee River and grilling out! We're soaking up the warm weather and gorgeous Georgia scenery while we can.

Kicking back on the deck, which had a picturesque views out onto the Georgia mountains (all screened in to keep out the bugs, thankfully.)

M kicking back in the hot tub! One of the benefits of upgrading to an eight-person cabin was the 8-person hot tub! We want to round up a big group and go back next year.

A contentious game of cards on the deck! Grrrr..

M's goal for the weekend: an 1,000-piece puzzle.

Game room! We had so much fun playing pool on Friday night. We saved the foosball table and piano for next year.

We were so lucky to have the chance to see the neighbors' firework show! It was like a very scaled down version of the big fireworks at home!

Saying goodbye to our glorious cabin ... we'll be back!