Hello, friends! I hope everyone is having an enjoyable holiday weekend.

I started mine on Thursday. I took the day off, went for a jog in Lincoln Park, laid out on my rooftop deck, then went to get my Zipcar to drive to my mom’s for the night (this was a nightmare experience and I won’t be using them again). Eventually, I made it there and Mom and I had a glass of wine on the back patio before having delicious salmon, salad, and wild rice for dinner.

I woke up early on Friday morning as I was headed to South Haven to join friends at a house they’d been renting since Wednesday. I wanted to be early so that I wouldn’t miss out on the pontoon we rented from 11 am to 8 pm and of course, they’re an hour ahead, so I was on the road by 6 am, blasting Lady Gaga and singing along. When we got on the boat, it took a while to reach the open lake, but the water and the weather were beautiful, so it was well worth it. I was grateful to be on a boat as opposed to the beach, which was packed like sardines. The sign amidst the throngs of people saying, “Keep Social Distance” was pretty laughable.

Once we returned home, we discovered the power was out so we had to use the grill to make tacos. We played the card game, BS; that induced a lot of belly laughing! A little after midnight, we took the short walk to the beach. On the way, we saw a beautiful doe eating some leaves and grass. She was surprisingly relaxed and didn’t seem alarmed by our presence nearby. Once we got down to the water, the boys set off some fireworks which garnered cheers from a neighboring group enjoying a bonfire. It was a really fun day, but boy did we all get a lot of sun. I fell asleep easily.

I returned to my mom’s house in Wilmette the next morning to take care of Boo who had an unsettled tummy. We went for a walk at one point and as Boo was resting, my friend Arie came for a lovely visit on the back patio. The rest of the evening was low key. I took a shower, got in pajamas, and we ate grilled hamburgers, corn on the cob, salad, and watermelon while we watched Hamilton on Disney Plus. It is such an amazing show and it was a treat to see the original cast perform with so many close-ups and more intimate filming. Needless to say, Mom and I got a bit verklempt by the end and it was a perfect, patriotic activity to end the Fourth of July.

This morning, we went for a walk before it got too hot outside, then I packed the car and headed back to the city with Boo. Once home, I made a smoothie, tidied up, took a nap, and have since been watching Unsolved Mysteries on Netflix. I may venture out for another walk if it cools off later. Though it’s been hot, I’m grateful for the generally beautiful, sunny weather. It felt like recompense for all of the tragedy and hardship this year. Can you believe half of the year is over? What a strange one it’s been. Take care, all, and have a wonderful week!

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This past week, I ventured out not one, but three times to the downtown area for outdoor dining experiences. On Wednesday, I had a wonderful happy hour with work friends at River Roast, followed by a late-night foray to RPM Italian for some delicious pasta. Then on Friday, my friend Kylie came over for some wine spritzers on my rooftop deck before we threw on sundresses over our bathing suits and took Boo to Casati’s dog-friendly patio down the street. We split a white pizza, roasted brussel sprouts, and a salad. Our server gave Boo some cold water and a strip of bacon (so thoughtful). He really is a little celebrity wherever he goes. People in the neighborhood recognize and approach us at this point and I’ve made so many new friends and have had life-affirming interactions with strangers, thanks to Boo!

The next day, I met up with Kylie again as well as friend, Heather, for a 90-minute brunch at Pizza Portofino. Apparently, one can never have enough Italian! While I know everyone has their own comfort level with eating out, the places we went to were very spacious, the staff wore mask coverings, and I never felt concerned about cleanliness. Plus, it felt wonderful to be back downtown and enjoy some great food.

When not out to eat, I spent all my time out walking in Lincoln Park or hanging out with Boo. I am dreading the inevitable separation coming and am trying to enjoy ever moment with him as much as possible. He truly is the best and kept me buoyed during the quarantine. I am so grateful for him!

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Last night, I had my brother and mom over to my new apartment for the first time. It was also Bill’s first time meeting Boo, and Mom’s second time seeing him. This occasion was something I’ve been looking forward to for a very long time. Mom was in charge of the meat; she made delicious beef tenderloin and horseradish sauce. I made roasted garlicky red potatoes and wilted spinach for sides, guacamole for an appetizer, and a german chocolate cake from scratch to celebrate my mom’s birthday and her continued success at work.

It was such a lovely night and Boo was very excited to have guests, you can imagine. He had a couple of accidents in the apartment, but other than that, he was a charming co-host. Watching Bill and Boo interact was hilarious! We stayed up until midnight when Bill went home. This morning, Mom and I had coffee and then took a walk around Lincoln Park. Such a beautiful day for it.

Earlier in the week, I went to Andrea’s for an outdoor work party, finally reuniting with my colleagues. I haven’t seen them since early March and it was great to catch up and sit outside on another summer beautiful day. I was late arriving because Boo had an upset tummy; it was really hard to watch him struggle, but fortunately, my colleagues cuddled him at the party and he was back to normal the next day.

It’s more activity than I’ve been used to lately, but I have to say that having these social events made me feel so happy. I am looking forward to hosting my family and other friends in the future. I’m not fully ready to go to one of the crowded patio bars in my neighborhood just yet, but at the same time, I understand the draw. I just want to be cautious and anyway, it’s fun to have the party at home.

Stay safe, everyone!

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I don’t often post about more incendiary topics, but today is different. Yesterday, I posted what now seems like a very tone-deaf post about brunch, though that was not my intention and I could not have anticipated the violence and unrest that would occur throughout the late afternoon and evening in downtown Chicago.

I know I’m opening myself up to criticism, but that’s okay because I want to educate myself on how I can be an ally to people of color in a meaningful way. The murder of George Floyd was unacceptable, disturbing, and has justifiably incited rage, hurt, and nationwide turmoil.

I am a privileged white woman and I don’t pretend to know the injustices that people of color go through regularly. I can’t imagine feeling unsafe just being you are on a daily basis. It makes me sad, it makes me angry. Most of all, I feel helpless. I am scared to join these protests for fear of escalation, violence, and destruction. I don’t believe that those things are the answer, but at the same time, what is? These actions come from so much built up anger, pain, and lack of security.

So I’m asking, what can I do to help? How can I be an ally? How can I educate myself on this topic that I feel ignorant about? Simply posting supportive quotes on social media does not feel appropriate or impactful. If anyone has any guidance they can share, I would greatly appreciate it.

Please stay safe out there!

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Earlier this afternoon, I had my lovely friend, Sarah, over for one-on-one brunch (if you don’t include Boo). I haven’t seen her in so long and was really excited to catch up, show her my place, and introduce her to the puppy!

For brunch, I served mimosas, spinach and goat cheese frittata, breakfast potatoes, and fresh berries. It was pretty delicious! For inspiration, I went to Cookie + Kate. I followed her potatoes recipe almost exactly (though I added a bit more garlic powder), and used her frittata recipe as a general guide, though I picked my cheese and veggie combination. They turned out great, though I think the frittata could have used one more minute in the oven. Regardless, I’ve got some yummy leftovers now!

It was so nice to have Sarah over and for it to feel like a somewhat normal visit, though we didn’t hug and we wore face masks in the lobby and elevator of my building. It was nice to connect over the challenges we currently face, the craziness in the news, and just everything, as is always the case with Sarah. She is one of the best conversationalists I know!

For the remainder of the day, I plan to take it easy and spend time with the puppy. I am waking up and going to bed earlier and earlier these days, so I already got my daily walk done before 8 am. Not much else to do now…maybe a bubble bath? Anyway, I hope everyone is enjoying the weather today. To those peacefully protesting locally or around the nation regarding George Floyd’s death in Minneapolis, I hope you stay safe and thank you!

North Pond at around 6:30 am this morning.

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One of the things that have long been associated with me is my aversion to cooking. I used to pronounce myself as the worst cook, too busy to do it, etc. It’s funny how extra time and a far superior kitchen can change that. I finally have an oven that fits a normal cookie sheet, a dishwasher to take care of the mess, and a view while I chop vegetables.

Most of what I make is fairly simple and I’ve welcomed healthy recipes from friends like Kylie, who has the identical palate to me it often seems. It’s primarily vegetarian items, though I’m going to venture into cooking more fish and lean meat now and then. I’ve also been making quite a few smoothie bowls, altering my toppings for both a breakfast and a dessert version.

Beyond cooking and eating at home, I’ve spent much of the weekend walking. In fact, I’m over 20,000 steps today, so you can bet I took a snooze. I find that walking has been one of those meditative, essential activities as part of my routine. I have a path that takes about an hour, with the first half occurring alongside Lincoln Park, the middle taking me through the quaint tree-lined streets of Old Town, and finally wrapping around again to my neighborhood.

Boo is doing well, though with the hot temperatures, we don’t linger outside for too long. He pants immediately and French Bulldogs are not able to regulate their body temperature as well as other breeds, so he can become overheated easily. I try to take him for a longer walk in the morning when it’s still shady and somewhat cooler. He is getting bigger and his newfound bark is extremely manageable, luckily. Simply ignoring him makes him stop, though admittedly, it’s such a cute sound that I’m often tempted to egg him on.

I had two socially distant activities with friends over the weekend, but I can’t help but mourn Memorial Day activities of the past. I would’ve loved to attend a barbecue or a party somewhere. Some people in my neighborhood had big parties anyway (think college-aged or young twenties), and though I was inclined to judge them harshly, I admittedly understand the desire. However, I chose not to do that for obvious reasons.

I have been monitoring the news in Chicago (recently purchased a digital subscription of the Tribune) and I have mixed feelings about the reopening of the city. From a professional standpoint, any sign of a return to normalcy is desirable, but from a health and safety standpoint, I’m a little more ambivalent. I want solutions, but it’s extremely complicated. In general, I am pleased with the way our state has dealt with the pandemic.

Anyway, I hope everyone continues to be cognizant and at the very least, respectful of others. Take care and stay safe!

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I’ve been having a blast the last few weeks getting better acquainted with my neighborhood, Lincoln Park, via outings with Boo or solo excursions. I’m a very short distance from North Pond, the Theurer-Wrigley House, also known as the Wrigley Mansion (featured below), and the Peggy Notebaert Nature Museum, and the lakefront trail, currently closed to the public. Still, you can imagine the flux of people in the open areas during warmer, sunnier days.

Lincoln Park boasts some beautiful mansions, both modern and historical. When walking by the Theurer-Wrigley House, you can peek into this atrium type structure with original stained glass (I believe it’s Tiffanys). The quieter streets are lined with flowering, fragrant trees at this time of the year, making you feel like you’re on a true garden walk. North Pond is bursting with life, from baby goslings to sunbathing turtles (see below).

Though I’m not terribly far from my last apartment, being further south and east has made me feel as though I’m in a newer, better, more natural world. Boo has also made several furry and human friends, many of whom know him by name. He is practically the de facto mascot of the restaurant next to my building, so much so that they’re trying to find a bandana with their logo on it for him. My little celebrity!

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Now that I’ve put together my bookshelf and my new television has arrived, I feel like I can finally share more pictures of my apartment. With the exception of the balcony (part of the table arrived broken and I had to order a replacement part), everything is pretty much done. I will likely add more art to the walls, but that’s not something I want to rush into. So, take a quick tour with me and let me know your thoughts! Personally, I’m very proud of it. I went for modern colors, a variety of textures with a focus on coziness, and personal touches everywhere from photos to meaningful tchotchkes. My books feature greatly as well.

Soon, I hope to be able to welcome my loved ones inside for a movie night, drinks on the balcony, a nice dinner (finally I have a stove that isn’t made for dolls), etc. In the meantime, I’ll be doing laundry, dishes, taking bubble baths, and playing with my puppy while the natural light comes in from the east. Things have changed, and so much for the better!

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If it’s a secret that I adore my mom, then it’s the worst kept secret on the planet. Though I won’t be seeing her in person today, I am looking forward to a video call and sending her lots of virtual love. We just spent the weekend before together in absolute bliss, enjoying each other’s company doing nothing and everything. I wish we could walk today, but it’s supposed to rain. That said, I am very much looking forward to having her over for a visit and a walk by North Pond.

In a conversation with my friend Arie, we discussed the importance our parents have on our lives. I can’t fathom life without my mom. My teenage years were very difficult, but she always fostered a loving environment. She supported and encouraged me in my goals and my healing. She did exactly what she’s supposed to do, but I also have the distinct pleasure of calling her my best friend, something that is not always the case between child and parent. She is the kind of person you want to be friends with and this is evident by the multitudes of people that vie for her time and company. How lucky am I that she is forced to give me hers, ha!

I am wishing her a very happy, joyful Mother’s Day! I also want to take this opportunity to send the same sentiments to my best friends who are fantastic mothers: Andrea and Britt. The love you have for your children is mirrored in what great little people they are becoming! You are both role models for me if and when the time comes for me to be a mom.

For those that are struggling to be mothers or have had to take a non-traditional route to get there, I honor you! If you don’t have a relationship with your mom due to toxicity, I honor you as well and am sorry.

I certainly am not suggesting this is the real thing, but I am very proud to be a dog mama this year. It’s a lot of work, but my first taste of unconditional love for another living being that I’m responsible for. It’s helped me grow so much. I love you, my Boo!

Happy Mother’s Day, all. I hope you feel the love even if it has to be virtual. It’s still no less real.

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Oh my goodness, what a whirlwind couple of days it’s been! Boo and I are finally settling in to our new apartment in Lincoln Park. My sofa and coffee table arrived today so that is a major check off of my list. I still need to tackle my clothes and closet since the lack of storage is the one downside of my new home. My friend, Arie, who helped me with the move by grocery shopping and bringing Boo here from my mom’s, will come tomorrow to help me organize that.

Speaking of my mom, Boo and I had an incredible four days with her, eating her home-cooked meals, going for walks, and just hanging out. It was so wonderful to be with her and I really enjoyed watching how much she loved on Boo. We miss her dearly already.

The move itself was yesterday and it went by quickly. The movers were great and I was able to return my U-Haul with relative ease. Arie helped me tackle the initial boxes and unpacking groceries and kitchen items. What a wonderful friend she is to be so willing and enthusiastic to help!

Boo seems to be adjusting well to his new neighborhood, exploring the block we live on with zeal. I do feel bad that I’ve been so distracted the past few days, but soon enough, he will have more of my attention. Today he has a follow up vet appointment to check if the giardia, a common intestinal parasite, is all gone. Hopefully the medication worked. He also has a few shots left to receive. My expectation is that this will be the last vet visit for now until he gets neutered at six months (cross your fingers).

I’m loving my place so far and all of the amenities. I can’t wait to get balcony furniture and some plants to enjoy the beautiful view of Lincoln Park and Lake Michigan. Eventually, I’ll be able to have access to my building’s rooftop deck and fitness center. Absolutely looking forward to that and hosting guests!

The view from my balcony!

Once I’m fully unpacked, I will share pictures of my bathroom and bedroom area. The only other big decorating project outside of closet organization includes hanging a mirror and some pictures. I also think I’m going to purchase a larger television. I’m very excited and am looking forward to a much needed night’s sleep tonight. It’s been very “go, go, go” and I’m ready to settle!

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