Enjoying Epicurian Diversity Chicago Style

My Sweet Home, Chicago!

My Sweet Home, Chicago!

 

There isn’t much that rejuvenates and inspires quite like a trip back to a place where you feel roots and strong ties; to land, community, and the general life. Going back home to Chicago is always a special treat for me because I get the opportunity to explore so many different ethnic foods (that I miss when I’m away). I also get the chance to spend time with people I love, who love me back and know the me I used to be and appreciate the person I’ve become. The above view is the Chicago skyline taken from the balcony of my sister’s condo where I was staying.

Mmmm.... Sushi!

Mmmm…. Sushi!

I got to do all of the above on this trip…and also had the chance to enjoy the musical mecca that Chicago becomes in the summertime. I knew this trip was going to be foodie fantastic when my sister picked me up from the airport and we started our weekend with sushi. Neither her hubby nor mine are big fans, and neither were with us, so we indulged at this fantastic place called Kamehachi. Our server was wonderful, the food was beautifully prepared, and we were able to enjoy outside seating in mid-70 weather.

My sister was also a big fan of their hibiscus tea. Me? I believe you don’t fruit the salad and you don’t flower the tea…LOL! But it worked for her, and it was refreshing. Did I mention we also did not have a wait to be seated? Heck, in Chi-town, the Open Table app is all the rage to prevent wait times, but it never became a concern. We still used it several times, though. Better safe than sorry.

Tapas and Café Iberico

Tapas and Café Iberico

Dinner that night was later, so we decided on some fun, not too heavy fare. One of the beautiful things about Chicago means being able to WALK to many of the places we visit. This beautiful evening was no exception. After my brother-in-law got off work we headed to Café Iberico for some tasty tapas!

For those of you who don’t know the history of tapas, it’s kind of interesting. This was Castillian Spain’s version of bar food. In fact, even the word tapas is a reference to lids….often used to cover the food to keep fruit flies away. 🙂 Want to know more about the stuff? Click HERE for your Spanish history lesson!

Lemon Pancakes and Asparagus, mushroom, and bacon omelet

Lemon Pancakes and Asparagus, mushroom, and bacon omelet

The following morning my sister introduced me to the joys of brunch at Kingsbury Street Café. Nestled next to the VIP Lounge (Yes, Phil, it’s a strip club), it served the most luscious lemon pancakes. Because my sister’s sweet, and I’m a bit savory, we decided to order stuff we could share. Their multigrain toast baguettes were fresh, with a sweetness that did not require any jams (at least in my opinion). The omelet? To die for…AND they didn’t overcook the asparagus. Did I mention they had fabulous coffee as well?

What was really awesome was that one of my childhood best friends had left her kids with her hubby and come into the city to spend the weekend with us…just like we did when we were kids. Don’t get me wrong, I’d have loved to hang out with her munchkins, but this was some much needed grown up unwinding time, complete with booze.

Drinks and Indian Food

Drinks and Indian Food

Breakfast at Hotel Sister

Breakfast at Hotel Sister

Yup! Once she got to town we decided it was the perfect time to pop her cherry. It turned out, she’d never had Indian food, so we took her to Jaipur Indian Restaurant and introduced her to the joys of things like naan, samosas, chicken tikka masala, dal, and the ever so tasty gulab jamun!

And when we’re eating all sorts of flavor exploding dishes, it only made sense to enjoy some lemon-tinis. 🙂

Of course, the morning of the concert I had the pleasure of enjoying familial hospitality at my sister’s place. She made the most amazing baked French toast with a caramel praline topping. She even had home made/tapped syrup that a close friend of theirs harvests on his own. How cool is that?

She also pampered me with awesome cappuccinos and lattes that she made, herself. The only thing missing was the fancy froth designs, and to tell you the truth, I didn’t really miss it. I mean, who am I kidding? It’s not like the folks at Starbucks bother decorating my froth before they put lids on my drinks, either…and hers were even tastier (and FREE!)

Me and a childhood bestie

Me and a childhood bestie

After such phenomenal home service we decided to chillax a bit, catch up, and enjoy the day. We took my sister’s dog for a walk, visited their local animal shelter, the Anti-Cruelty society. It was pet adoption day and I thanked my lucky stars that I live far away, because it helped prevent me from coming home with every puppy they had up for adoption. How cool is it, though, that they had Darth Vader and some Storm Troopers to help get all those adorable furry friends into new, loving homes? Yeah….there were a lot of folks doing just what my friend did. Selfies with the Star Wars villains. 🙂 Me? I stuck to the huggable, loveable Dalmatian. My sister’s pup got plenty of love and attention from everyone. In fact, their official professional photographer insisted on taking a pic of her dog with the white storm troopers. (While I’m thinking on it, please hold a good thought for him. He’s been having some eye issues that are going to need to be resolved with doggie surgery. We’re hoping they won’t have to take his eye.)

A couple of friends stopped to by to surprise me!

A couple of friends stopped to by to surprise me!

Fish and Chips with Cider

Fish and Chips with Cider

That afternoon, after our dog walking adventure we got ready for an early supper, then the Blake Shelton concert. We decided to head to Duke of Perth for the best fish and chips in town, and some cider to wash it down. What was really awesome was that because I’d checked in on my phone app, a couple of childhood friends stopped in to say hello and give hugs! Don’t you just love surprises like that? It made my day to know that they went out of their way just to stop and say hi.

Although Duke of Perth is quite well known for their whiskey, we wanted to be sober enough to enjoy seeing Dan + Shay, The Band Perry, Neal McCoy, and, of course, Blake….at the legendary Wrigley Field! Now, I’ve always enjoyed Neal McCoy’s music, but after catching his sense of fun and humor, I’ve decided I’d be perfectly okay with being in the center of a Neal and Blake sandwich. 😉 Next to Blake, he was my favorite part of the night.

When the time came to say goodbye to my sister and my favorite town, it was with a heavy heart. There’s something about my home town that uplifts me. I love that no matter how often I come back I discover some new gem either while still being filled with nostalgia. What do you love most about going back home? Or, if you never left, what places would you recommend to someone visiting your home town?

I’ll leave ya’ll with this awesome song… Tell me how many famous guitar players you can name. 😉

Seduction of Summer

Not too long ago I wrote an article for Sexual Wellness News about the importance of revving up the sex life. Writing it for them, though much more technical than you guys ever see on here, reminded me of the many reasons I’ve always loved this time of year.

As many of you know, I’m not much of a snow person. In fact, I like my snow to arrive between Christmas eve and Christmas day. Period. So as entertained as I may be by posts from my friends from the great white north, it’s not something I’d want for myself. In fact, all it took was a couple of blizzards from back home in Chicago (and a 2 day power outage to go with it) to convince me it was time to search for sunnier skies.

My husband lovingly calls me a closet nudist and he’s not far from wrong. One of the great joys of summertime is the opportunity to throw off articles of clothing that you’ve deemed “necessary to keep you warm” during the less gentle seasons. Ladies, how many times have you found yourself checking out some washboard abs as a guy has decided to shuck his shirt? Gentlemen, how many of you dig seeing your girl in a sundress and flip flops or go to the beach to check out the bikinis? Yes. The ability to take it off is pretty phenomenal. (And if you haven’t tried it because you’re nervous about your body…you should. You’d be amazed at how freeing it feels. And you might also be surprised at how easy it is to accept yourself just a bit more when you’re doing it for pleasure, not analysis in the mirror trying to imagine how “everyone else” sees you.)

Enjoying my pool, libation in hand

Enjoying my pool, libation in hand

Summertime is also a great opportunity to enjoy playful outdoor excursions. If you’re as fortunate as me, sometimes you don’t have to go past your back door. (And if you’ve got enough privacy, it can be a clothing optional event as well!) Okay, so not everyone has a pool in their back yard. What other options are there? How about picnics in the park? Visits to the beach? Outdoor concerts? Neighborhood festivals? So many fun-loving options!

Best of all are summer vacation trips. Isn’t there something very appealing about going someplace where no one knows you? Where you can let your hair down and be whomever you’d like? How would some random stranger know that going to a nude beach is something you’d never have the guts to do at home? Who cares if you and your partner decide to act out the fantasy of inviting a stranger into your bed for one night only….protected, of course. Or maybe, if that’s not your thing….you and your partner can role play. Pretend to be strangers. Let him or her pick you up in the bar and ravish you before you even make it back to your hotel room. Heck, sex on the beach is more than just a drink, you know…. (And if you have an aversion to sand, the side of a building or the back seat of a car works quite nicely, too.)

And if you don’t have a partner….it doesn’t mean you can’t have fun. Wild, hot, torrid connections are so much fun to explore. You’ve got a whole lot of options available to you. Just remember. Confidence is sexy. Pretty eyes and great smiles can seduce a person from half way across a room before a word is even spoken.

Yes, to me, sun and summertime is all about possibility and adventure with a ton of exploration. And vacation is the perfect time to leave reality behind and explore to your heart’s desire. We don’t have to go into these adventures blindly. Make sure to pack a bunch of condoms and a great quality lube… in fact, besides being organic, Aloe Cadabra is a great choice for so many reasons….and not just because they have a Piña Colada flavor. Yeah. I’m a HUGE fan. Can you tell?

Oh, and in case anyone was wondering…. So far this summer I’ve already enjoyed one concert. Hunter Hayes’ “We are not Invisible” tour with Danielle Bradbery and Dan + Shay. Next month I’m headed out to Chicago for a long weekend to visit my sister and see Blake Shelton, the Band Perry and Neal McCoy….and hopefully an outdoor concert at Ravinia, too.

Now it’s your turn…. What about summertime seduces you?

PS. For those of you who’ve read it, any adventurous likenesses to my book Three For All may have a LOT to do with my love of the season. 😉

Winter Warm Up

All over my Facebook this morning where freezing cold pictures of snow covered yards, cars, lawn furniture…and even some pets and children frolicking in the white stuff. Brrrr! Do you know the last time I actually enjoyed winter weather?

Winter in Germany

Winter in Germany

Yeah, that’s me with my hands in the air. Many, MANY moons ago. In another country. I’m not without understanding of how winter works… I grew up in Chicago, for goodness sake. I’ve dealt with the wind coming off Lake Michigan. And I moved to Southwest Florida for a reason… So imagine my surprise when I prepared to take my beautiful dogs out for their morning constitutional only to find the temperature was in the 40’s. Yes, a mad scramble ensued to find things like fuzzy socks and sweatshirts. It’s nearly 2 pm here. How warm did it actually get?

So it's not as cold as where you are...don't judge me. I freeze easily.

So it’s not as cold as where you are…don’t judge me. I freeze easily.

To be clear, I left Chicago more than 10 years ago after 2 blizzards in a row. These days I tend to get a bit whiny and cranky when I’m cold. Unfortunately, today, I can’t even shove my ice cube feet under my hubby’s legs to warm them up (and shock his system) because he’s away at training.

So, since most of us agree that cold weather is no fun once you grow up (granted the degrees of cold we all handle is different), I thought I’d go to my happy places and bring you along…

Doesn’t that just call sun and surf to mind? It just so happens that one of my dear friends married a reggae singer named Jah Niceness (well, that’s his stage name) from Jamaica. So I actually know him personally. He’s one of the sweetest, mild mannered guys I’ve had the pleasure of meeting.

This is him singing at another friend's going away party.

This is him singing at another friend’s going away party.

What else makes me think warmer climates? For the smart alecks that may have thought “how about ice cream?” or “what about a dip in the gulf or a pool?” You’re not funny…. But maybe pictures of those things may warm me…

Like snorkeling in the Bahamas...

Like snorkeling in the Bahamas…

Yeah, that water was nice and warm….

Eh… Who am I kidding? What I really need to do is get my juices going! In my universe we all know that’s an open ended prospect that can lead to a dance floor just as easily as a bedroom. 😉 Or it can mean writing all the things that get everyone else all warmed up…. Hmmm… Maybe it can mean all three. Bah! Who am I kidding? Of course it can!

So, when your weather outside is frightful…what do you do to feel warm? Feel free to be as clean or as dirty as you please…LOL!

Posers, Parties and Passions

As often happens when blogging, comments (like the ones on yesterday’s post) can trigger inspiration; in this case, I have my newer friend, Professor Taboo, to thank. If you’re not following him yet, you should click the link and check him out. I find him to be immensely entertaining and unique in his thought processes, so I’m very grateful to Renee for “introducing” us. I’ll be honest, I’m not exactly sure how I went from point A to point B on this particular post, but it’s what stuck.

When I was in high school one of the biggest insults a person could hand you was “poser”. Looking back, it’s kind of funny because high school is all about discovering yourself and I’d hazard that most people “posed” at some point. Maybe there are some of you who haven’t heard the term. Who knows… Maybe it’s a generational thing? If so, let me give you a short clip to give you “context”.

Probably the biggest examples of stereotypes came with The Breakfast Club, but oddly enough, my high school wasn’t really like that. There wasn’t as much cliquishness as I’d expected going in my junior year after having spent my first two years in private school. Looking back, I think it may have been because we had a fair amount of Dead Heads and “Alternatives” who were also popular or prominent in the different clubs, music programs and athletic teams. It wasn’t until after I left that I realized it was probably pretty unusual for schools to have environmental clubs, jewelry clubs or some of the other 50+ clubs we had. It never occurred to me that most schools probably didn’t have their top male vocalist in madrigals with blue hair, wearing a kilt or being openly “bi”. Or that the stars of both the lacrosse and soccer teams were “alternative”.

Student Ambassadors retreat (left alternative chick, middle hippie, right me)

Student Ambassadors retreat (left alternative chick, middle hippie, right me)

It was cool to be who you were…. The worst crime you could commit was to be untrue to yourself. It happened quite more than I would have thought, actually. Some person would assume that “being alternative” meant dying your hair black, looking like what folks call “goth” these days, and throwing on combat boots. The things that gave you away? Your taste in music was usually a biggie, but there were a bunch of other little tells that I would’ve been mostly clueless to. (Though it was this crew that introduced me to Front 242, Ministry, The Revolting Cocks, Erasure, EMF, Anything Box, Morrissey and The Smiths–before many of them were considered cool.)

The funny thing was, I wasn’t really part of any of these “groups”. My sunshine-y disposition and my taste for bright colors made it obvious that I wasn’t considered a part of their crowd. Somehow, though, I probably partied more with them than I did anyone else in high school. And if it wasn’t with them, it was with the rock band boys who were all about classic rock. Because I didn’t try to fit in…somehow I did…

The lesson I learned? Be yourself… It’s a lot simpler that way.

As many of you know, I’m not exactly what people would term as “vanilla” in the way I think about sex and interpersonal relationships. For those of you who’ve read my posts, there have been clues along the way. Just click the sex tab at the left side of my blog if you don’t believe me. Don’t get me wrong…I pass no judgment on those who aren’t. I just find that I have a preference for a bit of kink with my play. Looking back, I shouldn’t have been surprised…things always gravitated in that direction (both people and situations)…even in high school.

When I was a junior/senior in high school there was a club called Medusa’s in Chicago. The link gives you a taste of what the club was like (part of the evening allowed for minors, then everyone was kicked out to admit adults only…and a list of musical selections). The first night I went to this club was with a bunch of gal pals. They worked so hard to perfect their make up, to wear the “right” clothes, to look sexy (we were 18). I just wanted to hang with my friends. I didn’t bother with makeup, threw my hair up in a ponytail, grabbed a pair of black leggings and an oversized crew neck shirt and headed out the door. When we got to the club, the ones who tried so hard to “be cool” pretty much hung out like wall flowers. Me and the Australian exchange student got on the dance floor and started shakin’ it. Before I knew it, I was dancing in a sandwich. One guy at my back, the other at my front. My Aussie friend found a friend of theirs to dance with and got behind one of my partners until we had a 5 person dirty dancing chain…LOL!

The lesson I learned? Guys appreciate girls who don’t try too hard (and who could take them or leave them).  😉

One of my closest friends through high school and college was definitely an “alternative chick”. In fact, back in the day she used to work part-time at Crobar, Chicago…when it was Dennis Rodman’s favorite hang out. Her favorite club, though, was a place called The Dome Room. Why did this place make such an impact on me? Because… I realized something. I may not always recognize “posers” when it came to cliques, but I recognized posers when it came to sex. You see, Dome Room had a theme night…one of her favorites… She’d been dying to take me knowing I’d be entertained. The theme? Bondage Night.

It wasn’t until her “last hurrah” that I finally agreed to go. Oddly enough, the thing that held me back was my concern of “feeling uncomfortable”. Ha! The fact that I’d been 18 the first time I’d restrained a boyfriend to play with him should have been a clue, but it never crossed my mind. In my head I pictured what many people imagine when thinking about BDSM. Men in leather, women barely dressed and being dragged by dog collars attached to chains. Make no mistake…we saw that…along with people dressed in pvc and latex…. BUT….

As my best friend was pregnant (hence her last hurrah–and we weren’t drinking), she needed to use the restroom. We headed upstairs to where the bathrooms were located and she hit a stall. While I was waiting for her, two girls walked in to “touch up” their makeup. After a quick glance in their direction I was dying for my friend to come out while I bit my tongue to keep from laughing. One of the young ladies was wearing a black spandex top with heart-shaped and sheer see through black nylon-like materal that covered her upper body and arms. What I saw when I glanced over was that she’d also attempted to shade in some cleavage lines…maybe using eyeliner? The lines were uneven (I hope they’d just melted away with the sweat from dancing rather than by oversight.) It was the first time I’d ever seen someone try to pencil in some boobs. Cause, you know, guys wouldn’t notice the size difference once they got you nekkid.

Her…I mostly felt sorry for (though I couldn’t help laughing).

What was worse was the two girls that got up on one of the raised platforms to dance. Ever watch two women try to draw male attention by pretending to be into one another? Yeah…it’s painful….not to mention insulting to women who truly ARE into one another. Mind you, at that time, my experience (as I knew it) with lesbians was pretty limited. So how did I know they were faking it for attention? Ladies who are really into each other don’t spend time kissing each other with one eye open looking to see if any hot guys are noticing. Just sayin’…and that’s for starters.

The lessons I learned? Never try to draw in your own cleavage (something embarrassing could happen) and never fake sexual interest in something/someone you’re truly not interested in.

As uncomfortable as I was afraid I’d feel at that club…it never happened. In fact, the people who tried hardest (and there were a few in the dog collar set…) were obviously not designed to be there for anything but playing dress up and the music. It became obvious when the floor show started…. It was only a mild D/s floor show, but some of those guys in the dog collars got very nervous when the floggers came out…probably afraid it was giving their girlfriends ideas they weren’t prepared to handle. 😀

By the way, for those of you paranormal lovers…The Dome Room is now closed, but was considered to be haunted…. If you’re interested, here’s a clip from when they were featured on Sightings.

What kinds of clubs did you go to when you were younger? Were you a part of any clique? If so, which one? What recurring themes have you noticed through the course of your life? What kind of music were you into in high school?

Green Rivers and Great Food

As a Chicago girl, I’ve developed an obvious love for St Patrick’s Day. On that day, the Chicago River was dyed green and one of the most popular parades took place. I’ve got to say, I miss that. (I was never a green beer girl, but I’d be willing to drink green wine)

ChicagoRiver

Chicago on St Patrick’s day is a sight to behold!

The other thing that has become tradition for me is having corned beef and cabbage. LOVE the stuff. I was spoiled in Chi-town. It’s one of the food meccas of the US, so it wasn’t difficult to find a place that served a tasty plate of the stuff on that particular day. I assumed everywhere else was like Chicago. Florida quickly disabused me of that notion. After having tried corned beef and cabbage at various restaurants to less than stellar results, I decided to take matters into my own hands.

Yep! I searched online for various recipes, found ones that looked interesting and then combined certain recipes to put my own twist on it. Out came the crock pot… The last few years have been much better since I’ve made my own. In fact, tonight, I invited some friends over and we enjoyed wine, cheese and crackers…and Corned Beef and cabbage. Dessert was Key Lime pie.

Corned beef n cabbage

Do you have traditions you enjoy celebrating for St Patrick’s Day? Do you have a favorite food that represents the day for you?

I’ll leave you with some fun music from Celtic Woman. I thought it was fitting…and fun!

He’s A Slice Of Something Amazing!

Since losing my retail job back in July I’ve been writing. As many of you know, there is no such thing as instant financial gratification in writing. (I chuckled to myself even as I wrote that sentence.) Writing-doing it right, takes time. Even once you’re finished with your story, it needs editing, polishing…yadda, yadda, yadda. I am okay with that. Hubby and I talked. We’ve decided to use this time to allow me to pursue my dreams! He believes in me…believes I’m talented enough to make a go of this.

It’s a bit of a scary move for someone who’s been working in traditional jobs since she was 16 and has had two careers that lasted nearly 10 years each. I never considered it a viable dream before. Had it not been for the prodding of some very good friends, I might have gone back to find some other job that took over my life and stifled my passions. Fortunately, my support system is pretty amazing…so I’m following my dream.

Then came today…February 1st. Why is this such a big deal? Because that means Valentine’s Day is in 13 days. Many of you have known me for a while now and know 2 things:  I like to celebrate holidays/milestones and last year was rough. Last year around Valentine’s Day I was doing at least 4 double shifts a week and 6 day work weeks. Somehow I managed to get Valentine’s Day off, so I made him his favorite Filipino foods. By late that night he was headed to the emergency room…and the following day found him having an emergency appendectomy.

This year will be different. As I racked my brain wondering what sort of awesome (not overly expensive…hey, I’ve been unemployed for a while now) gift I could get him, one of my awesome Twitter buddies, @Lisas_alter_ego posted something amazing! It was this picture!

Giordanos Pizza Heart

Hubby and I are from Chicago. This means that we can be a bit on the pizza snob side. It also means that there haven’t been any pizza places that have measured up to what we had back home. His absolute favorite thing is Giordano’s Stuffed Pizza. For Valentine’s Day they’re doing the pies shaped like hearts! And they FedEx them on dry ice! How cool is that? Sooo, guess what I’m gonna do for him? Absolutely! I’m gonna order one to be delivered for him.

I have an awesome man who loves and supports me. He believes in me and is willing to do whatever it takes so that I can pursue my dreams. To me that makes him pretty much the coolest person on earth. The pizza may not be much, but it’s a slice of home…and it’s one of the things he loves. Once I’m more steady on my feet again, I’ll be able to give him something more to show him how valued he is in my life…but for now, I’ll have to settle for a slice of cheesy goodness.

So what about you guys? Any plans for Valentine’s Day yet? Do you have a Valentine? Are you one of those people that feels this is just another Hallmark travesty? Let me know… while you enjoy my musical dedication to the day for lovers…

 

Bill Engvall Was Right. Stupid People Need Signs.

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I think I was in fifth grade when I discovered my love for warning and rules and regulations signs. We were on a field trip into downtown Chicago…probably to one of the numerous museums we have…when our teacher stood up and made the following announcement.

“Kids, there are signs all over the city that warn you to beware of pickpockets. When you see these signs your instinct will be to check for your wallet or wherever else you may be keeping your money. Ignore your instincts. The smart pickpockets know this and are probably just leaning on the sign, waiting for YOU to make their job easy and let them know where your money is.”

I laughed a little, but found myself thinking, my…how very clever!

Unfortunately, not everyone is all that brilliant… In fact, it blows my mind how much common sense flies out the window! It shouldn’t. I mean, Bill Engvall made a career based on the fact that stupid people should be required to wear signs that say they’re stupid so you’d know what to expect…and that Warning Labels were created because some idiot tried it, then wrote to the company to complain. He’s right!

Back when I first started my blog last August I saw these ground rules at one of those gamer stores. Here’s the link to that post in case you missed it. Some of those rules are hilarious while others are rules to live by! Role Play Games

Why am I revisiting this? Because of a couple things I’ve seen in the last week. you see, last week I was running some errands with a friend & we stopped by his veterinarian’s office to pick up meds for his dog. As we sat there waiting, my eye wandered to the warning sign framed on their wall. Now I’m really wishing I took a picture of it.

The warning said, “Under no circumstance do we accept returns on your dog medications, nor do we give refunds for them.” I laughed. Looking over at the receptionist I said, “does that seriously happen?” She nodded & told me it happened often enough to merit the sign. All I could think of was how those meds could be replaced by anything and brought back if they accepted returns…and how dangerous that could prove to be.

Then yesterday we went to my favorite adult toy shop and for the first time I noticed their sign. Theirs stated that the only returns they took were on defective products and that all sales were final due to sanitation laws. Again, I laughed to myself…

Looking at the owner’s daughter who was working I said, “Eww! I can’t believe that’s even a problem. YOU wouldn’t want someone else’s used toys, so what on God’s green earth makes you think someone would want yours!”

She laughed and nodded, “But you use common sense.”

“It just means you’d better pay attention when you shop and be sure that what you’re buying is truly something you want,” I said.

So you guys tell me… What signs or warning labels have had you scratching your head? Have you ever been witness to any odd returns? What warning label have you seen that’s either had you shaking your head or just laughing hysterically?

Flavors Of Your City

As many of you have figured out, I have a love of languages and travel. Growing up a military brat cultivated these passions….my mom being an amazing cook simply added to my love. Along the way she taught me how to indulge my love of Filipino cuisine by teaching me how to make things like Filipino eggrolls, chicken adobo and pancit. (And no, I don’t consider myself a foodie)

Pancit made by yours truly!

Pancit made by yours truly!

After we returned stateside from our 4 year stint in the Philippines we settled in the Chicagoland area where I finished my education. When you mention food to most people from Chicago, the first thing you hear about is pizza…specifically deep dish pizza. Although I’m a pizza snob, that’s not what I crave when I think Chicago. For me, it’s a specific place…Portillo’s.

Portillo's Drive Thru

Portillo’s Drive Thru

Now most people want Chicago style hotdogs when they stop in…but for me it’s always been one particular thing… A nice, wet Italian Beef with mozzarella.

Italian Beef from my last trip

Italian Beef from my last trip

After living in the Chicagoland area for nearly 20 years (the longest I’d ever lived anywhere…prior to that the record was 4 years), I moved to Florida. Although most of the people living in Florida are transplants, technically it’s a part of the south. As I was once told by a friend, “the only thing further south than Florida is Mexico”.

For a girl who doesn’t like tea except when she’s ill, moving to the land of Grits and Sweet tea was very different. People were drinking the stuff everywhere…and I learned to adapt, though I’ve never loved the stuff. I’d still much rather have coffee. But one day, sitting in Cracker Barrel I found myself sending a text message to a friend of mine (a good ol’ boy from Louisiana who’d moved to Tennessee).

Me: I’ve got a question for you.
Him: What’s that, darlin’?
Me: Does me liking grits mean I’m turning southern?
Him: Absolutely!

In case you’re wondering, I like my grits with butter, salt and pepper….sometimes with a fried egg on top.

Then there was my time in El Paso. Although I like seasoning in my food, I’ve never been a big pepper person. Salsa was something you ate with tortilla chips. As for margaritas? Hate tequila…have never been a fan. So why is it that since I’ve been back I love pretty much anything with jalapenos? Or that when I went to breakfast with a friend at Perkins last week I was completely bummed that although they had salsa, I knew it would not be spicy enough to fit the bill…

As for margaritas…I won’t be having them anywhere but in El Paso, but I actually found one I loved after a little pushing from my friends out there.

Margarita courtesy of Carlos and Mickeys in El Paso

Margarita courtesy of Carlos and Mickeys in El Paso

What I’ve learned is that I love exploring and experimenting with different, awesome foods (and drinks). Every region of the world has their favorites/specialties… So tell me…if I were to visit you, what foods (or drinks) are a must not miss? Is there a favorite restaurant?

In April I’m headed back to the Bahamas… I can’t wait to visit The Poop Deck…Awesome Conch Fritters!

David Foster Touched Me…No, Not Literally!

I’m having a musical moment again…shocker, right? Not….LOL!

What kind of musical moment have I been having? Well, the last few days I found myself on YouTube doing searches for some favorite songs of mine. I realized I must have been feeling nostalgic…but there was a theme. Many of the songs I was looking up were from one of my all time favorite composers…David Foster!

So you’re probably asking…who the heck is that guy and why should I care, right? Well, that guy has done some of the best, most memorable movie scores. In fact, initially I thought I’d do a top 5 soundtracks post…but then I thought…let me show you guys  a bit about what makes David Foster so amazing…

For example…many of you are familiar with the Love Theme to St Elmo’s Fire…and the instrumental version is amazing…but I love the words that go with it.

There is also The Prayer…and although this particular singing of it isn’t my favorite…I love this piece because he talked about composing it. It’s funny how similar composing music and writing a book/story can be. Listen to what he says and see if it doesn’t resonate with you. (Plus, Katherine Jenkins does have an amazing voice!)

Remember Casper…when he whispered “Can I keep you?” Loved that movie…and the song David Foster wrote…sung by Jordan Hill (a completely underrated talent). By the way, she also sang the duet my hubby and I danced to on our wedding day…so I truly do have a soft spot for her and the amazing talent she has.

He also wrote this amazing song from Pretty Woman, sung by Peter Cetera of Chicago. Are you surprised yet?

He even wrote the Whitney Houston hit “I Have Nothing” from the movie The Bodyguard. What’s especially cool about a guy like him is that he pays it forward…by discovering and promoting new talents… Can you imagine being given an opportunity the way this lovely young girl, Charice, just got?

My ultimate favorite, though, is one from the movie Stealing Home. David Foster sings this one with Marilyn Martin. Something about it reminds me of the sweet nostalgia of first loves and first times…

Can you imagine that kind of talent and passion? Did any of those songs bring back thoughts or memories for you? I know for me, tons of images come flooding back. Do you have a particular artist or writer or composer who has touched you deeply and never let go? If I ever get a chance, I would love to go to a David Foster event…I think I’m going to put it on my bucket list…he’s just incredible!