Monday, March 30, 2009

Just An Update

I really need a new job. I really need longevity on my resume. I'm still trying to decide which is a more important need. And it might be a mute point given the current economic situation. Could I even find a job?

Working 80+ hours a week. Sometimes until well after midnight. I don't have enough time for my classes, much less my writing. I feel whiny and crabby all the time. And since I am working on multiple projects and so overloaded, stuff isn't getting done in time or to a quality that I would like. I am so overwhelmed.

Oh, and then, some of the projects that I have worked on they just aren't going to get used anymore. So demoralizing. Why am I working so many hours if this stuff might not even get used?

I usually am not so whiny! I promise! I am usually very upbeat!

I even had a My Town Monday post idea, but I don't have the time to write it up. I hope to get around to everyone's blogs here either today or tomorrow.

Monday, March 23, 2009

My Town Monday -- Columbia Yacht Club

Since I just posted the other day about the Junior League, I thought that today I would post about one of the jewels of the Chicago Sailing Community, the Columbia Yacht Club. For those of you previously familiar with the Junior League, you will see the connection (other than being two organizations that I am involved in).

The Columbia Yacht Club, or CYC, was started in 1892. As you can see, we have a club ship rather than a club house. Throughout our history we have had several club ships. The first club ship was just a simple barge with a shed on top served as the first club ship and then in 1927 the club purchased an old wood and iron plated steamboat which was replaced in 1936 by the old Florida Steamer. In 1982 the Florida was retired and replaced with our current club ship, a 372-foot Canadian ice breaker and ferryboat, the Abegweit was purchased from the Canadian National Railway. We at the club affectionatly refer to her as the Abby. She used to serve as the primary tranportation method between Nova Scotia and mainland Canada. She would haul rail cars, automobiles and passengers.

Members pulled together the funds to buy the Abby from . From April 5-14th 1983 45 members, 15 Kings Point mariners and 6 Candaian seamen brought the Abby all the way from Pictou, Nova Scotia to Chicago. This was the largest privatly owned yacht ever brought through the St Lawrence Seaway.

We joined the club as a way to meet new people, which we have done. Even though we have belonged to the club for two years now, we are still the youngest memebers! We hope to get more involved in the club this year. Next season (2010) we plan on joining in Pinacle, but for now we just sail with Pete's sister and friends that we have met through the club.

CYC is very casual. I mean, people just got done sailing in the summers when they go to the dining room or the bar area! You'll see all levels of dress, but mostly it's jeans/shorts/casual. If you want a fancy club, go to Chicago Yacht Club (or at least that is what we always say!)

Perhaps my favorite part of the Club is the dining room. It is, in my opinion, the best view of Chicago's lakefront. Our executive chef, Breanna Bieke, is simply amazing! I always knew that she was young for an executive chef, but just learned that she graduated high school the same year I did (2001--I'm a youngin', I know). She became the executive chef three years ago at the age of just 23! Every month or so Chef Breanna and Nick (the Food and Beverage Manager) organize wine tastings, usually paired with a fabulous menu whipped up by Breanna. The normal dining food is amzing but these meals are unbelievable! Veal, duck saugage, lobster, quail....always interesting and unusual foods. She is very big into local produce and seasonal cooking. The regular menu gets changed up, oh every couple months, I'd say...

The most random person I ever saw at the Club was my Biology professor last semester. Although, I'm sure she found it even more random that I was a member!

Anyone interested in learning more about Columbia, please visit their website. If you are local to Chicago and are interested in learning how to sail, I highly recommend that you check out Skipjacks, a 9 week sailing program that only costs $325. It is broken into 2 classroom sessions, 5 on the water sessions and a party between the classroom session and another party after the last class. You will quickly learn that one of the best parts about sailing is the drinking and hanging out with fun people--that's why there are two parties! The reason why the costs are so low is because club members volunteer their time and their boats to teaching the students how to sail. Also, students are encouraged to come crew Beer Can races on Wednesdays. During the summer I will blog about those as well! Hopefully Stu will want Pete and my help again next year!

Pete and I being silly on the top deck.

Pete and I being even sillier, but down on the dining level. There are tables several feet away from where this pic was taken. See, they will let just about anyone join. This was taken almost two years ago--time sure does fly.

Proof that I need a better camera, but you get the idea. The yacht club is next to the harbor so during the sailing season you look out onto all the boats. On the other side of the boat from where this is taken you can see Navy Pier and the Ferris Wheel.

My Town Monday is the brain child of Travis Erwin. For other locations to visit please go to Travis' site here.

Saturday, March 21, 2009

The Junior League

I do not know if many of you are familiar with the Junior League. It is a philanthropic organization of 292 leagues in the United States, Mexico and United Kingdom that supports women and girls through a variety of services. Our mission is to promote voluntarism, develop the potential of women and improve the community through effective action and leadership of trained volunteers.

I am a member of the Chicago Junior League, which is more casually referred to as the JLC. I just joined last August and have enjoyed all the new women that I have met and the activities that I have done. Basically we are broken down into about forty committees. Most committees do events in the community, but others run events and some others do internal work for the league. Our current mission is to promote healthy eating for children so many (but not all) of our community projects revolve around this.

My committee is the Corporate Relations Committee. We contact local and national companies to try to get them to donate money or products. Since our member's dues go towards the running of the league itself and we are a volunteer organization, all the donations go directly to the community (or in the case of gifts of food, to the events). The Junior League focuses on creating a group of trained volunteers. I knew nothing about corporate solicitation or non-profit development, but the League is actively training me how. They want their members to use this training not just for the League, but to join other local organizations and to help other non-profits benefit.

Other committees include Kids In the Kitchen which teach kids how to eat healthy. Another one, called Project Con:Cern partners with a non-profit that is not as effective as they would like to be. We support them with marketing, fund raising, board development, or whatever they need help with.

Usually we start a new community project and then spin it off into it's own non-profit. For example, in the 1990s we started a program called "Next Step for Teen Moms". This group helped teenage mothers finish school, get a new job and stop having other children. We just cut it lose this last year. Another example is the Children's Museum in Navy Pier which was started back in the 1980s. In the 80's the JLC also started the first pediatric aids hospital in the midwest. In the 1950s we started the first pediatric psychiatric center in the country. Aids in the 1980s was so scary and in the 1950s people were really overlooking the importance of mental health, but that didn't stop the JLC! In the 1920s we event got women restrooms in the loop for secretaries and other women working downtown. Yes, you can thank us for loos in the loop!

We also hold several events through out the year. Our next event is on March 28th is called "Windy City Nights: Aunty Up for Charity". It's a Vegas themed party with an open bar. There will even be a poker tournament, which my hubby will be participating in :).

For more information about the Junior League or to locate one near your, go to the Junior League International's Website. For more information about the Chicago Junior League, you can visit our website here.

Monday, March 16, 2009

My Town Does Saint Patrick's Day

I hope that everyone had an enjoyable "everyone is Irish weekend." Here in Chicago we take our Saint Paddy's Day very seriously. Every year on the Saturday before Saint Patrick's Day we dye the Chicago river green. Emerald Green. It's pretty neat to see, actually.

You can see some images of the green river here. (Don't worry, it's soy based and completely fine for the aquatic life). More images of the Saint Patrick's Day parade can be seen here.

Despite the popularity and tourists that the downtown Saint Patrick's Day parade draws, most Chicago natives, especially those with Irish roots, will argue that the real parade is the South Side Irish parade.

The Saint Patrick's Day Parade was always held in the South Side, where many of the Chicagoians of Irish decent lived. However, in 1960, the mayor of Chicago, Richard Daley, moved the parade downtown. This parade because the "normal" St Patrick's Day Parade that most people are familiar with. Then, in 1979 the South Siders decided to start another parade. They wanted to bring the Parade back to the neighborhood where it was from. So now Chicago has two Saint Patrick's Day parades--downtown the Saturday before St Patrick's Day and South Side on the Sunday before.

The South Side Parade is considered to be the more rowdy of the two parades. There is a family section which is kept fairly on the up and up, but the other section, the fun section, is a little more...interesting. Unfortunately I was unable to attend this year, but I did go last year. I totally saw a drunk eight-year-old. Despite the racous nature, the parade is begun with mass at St. Cajetan Church at 112th and Artesian at 8:30am. Then the floats take to the street begining at noon.

The Irish are not a majority ethnic group in Chicago, but they are a very vocal and active one. Chicago has had 12 Irish mayors. Michael Flatley aka the Lord of the Dance was born and raised in Chicago.

Friday, March 13, 2009

Life Goals Revisited

Well, I am just about recovered from wisdom tooth surgury. I am still experiencing a decent amount of pain, but it's been decided that a nerve was probably nicked. I saw the above image online and just had to put it in.

Mostly I am just trying to play catch up. The Monday after my surgery (which I had two weeks ago today) I had an exam. I thought that I would be fine to study and then take the exam, but that didn't pan out. So no study, severe pain and heavy narcotics and I ended up getting right at average and considering it's a cross listed undergrad-grad class, I am feeling pretty okay about it. I'll just have to make sure I do really well on the other two exams. After that exam I asked my prof in my other math class if I could just take the exam later and he said that I could take it after Spring Break. But now that means that I have to study extra hard. And I have this stupid little English class that I am behind in by four assignments. I know what I am doing this weekend....

So enough whining. Since I have been out of commission, I have had lots of time to think about what I want to do. Given the current economy and the number of people pursuing and MBA right now, I have decided that I don't want to do that (which as people who have been following might recall is the whole reason I went back to finish my undergrad). Instead I think that I will get my certification in Project Management (including taking a project management certificate course at one of my target universities). After that I am thinking about maybe getting a masters in Math since I am surprisingly enjoying my Math classes (and I say surprisingly because I never really liked them and I had to take alot of advanced (post calculus) at Purdue for computer science...I have no idea what is different a few years later since the classes are fairly similar).

But where does that leave my writing? I definetly want to finish my novel by the end of the year. I think that the majority of the writing will be done during the summer, but I need to keep chugging along during the spring. I think I am going to set two days a week to take a long lunch break and write for an hour and a half. I know that is alot less than most people reading this blog, but for now, until I catch up with all the stuff I had to put off while being sick, that is really the only time that I have. Durring the summer, on the other hand, I will write for an hour and a half every day. Just now I need that other time to study.

So, next week I should be following my blog schedule again, which I said last week, I know! But Monday I will blog about the drunken debauchery that is the South Side Irish Parade, which I shall be attending this weekend. Good times.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Something a little different--my chili cookoff recipie

Basically the only social activity I've done in almost two weeks since I've been so sick has been the Chili Cook-off for my husband's company. Last year I brought a vegetarian chili and came in dead last. This year I had some honor to win back so I made what I call "Sassy Sausage Chocolate Chili". If you aren't trying to have a cute name, you could call this "Sausage Mole Chili" or "Chipolte Mole Chili".

My chili made me win my a landslide. So I can offically call this award winning chili.

I completely made up this recipe and got a few odd looks from my husband as I dumped in some of the more unusual ingredients (cocoa powder and peanut butter), but trust me, it turned out.

I didn't measure the spices as I poured them in, but I think that this is pretty close. The chili was fairly spicy, so you might want to adjust. However, the brown sugar, chocolate and peanut butter all take a bit of the bite out so make sure you taste as you go.

1lb black beans
1.5 lb ground beef (recommend 80/20 so that it has lots of fat)
1 lb sausage (recommend Jimmy Dean Sage Sausage)
1 can wheat beer
15 oz can enchilada sauce
Ortega taco sauce (I used about 6 of the 8oz in the bottle)
3 15oz cans petite diced tomatoes
1 15oz can refried beans
1 15 oz can black beans
1 small can tomato paste
1 large white onion
1 large bell pepper
A can of chipolte chilis in abobe sauce (we won't use the whole can)
1/8c+ peanut butter

4 beef buillion cubes
2 chipolte bullion cubes
2 bay leaves
1/4c masa flour (corn flour)
2T Cumin (or more/less to taste)
2T Chili Powder (or more/less to taste)
1T Celery Salt
Canned minced garlic (1/2 can)
3T Worchiser Sauce
3T A1 Sauce
1T oregano (preferably Mexican)
1T cinnamon
2t paprika
1t allspice
1t basil
1/3 c+ brown sugar
3T + 2T cocoa powder (divided)
handful of semi-sweet chocolate chips

1) Place the 1lb of black beans in a bowl with enough water to cover them by about three inches. Strain the beans about 2-3 times over the course of at least 6 hours. (Best to do late afternoon the day before the chili is needed, but some people say they like to soak their beans a full 24 hours before cooking.)
2) Strain the beans and place them into a crockpot with 2 beef bullion cubes, the enchilada sauce and enough water so that the beans are covered by about an inch of liquid. Add the bay leaves and cook on lowest heat for about 6-8 hours. (Best to do right before heading to bed)
3) Put cumin, chili powder, celery salt and pepper in bottom of large skillet and saute about 1-2 minutes or until fragrant. Add both meats and the masa flour. This will help lock in the flavor (which is why the sage sausage is recommended)
4) Once the meat it fully cooked, place into crockpot with beans, making sure to leave as much grease as possible in the skillet.
5) Add the beer and taco sauce to the meat/beans mixture.
6) Finely chop the onion and green pepper and place into skillet with the grease. Add the minced garlic and satue for about two minutes.
7) Add the diced tomatoes and continue to saute until all cooked and most of the liquid has cooked down.
8) Add to meat/beans.
9) Pour in the Worchiser, A1, tomato paste and refried beans.
10) Puree the chipolte chilis (and the adobe sauce) and add desired amount (I did about a quarter, but had used the chipolte bullion cubes...if you didn't have those, you might want more chilis). I'd recommend putting in some and saving the rest for adding later when adjusting heat.
10) Let simmer about an hour and then dump in all remaining ingredients except 2T of the coaca powder.
11) Simmer all day.
12) About an hour before serving, add the remaining 2T cocoa powder (or more to taste) and any additional seasonings to taste.

Saturday, March 7, 2009

Long Time No Blog

Hello everyone, sorry for the AWOL. Barrie was even so kind as to comment on my most recent post asking where I was.

Short story: I had wisdom tooth surgery.

Long story: I have been sick on and off pretty much all the time for about four months. As soon as I got better I caught something else. At the same time I was beginning to experience pain in the back of my mouth. This was the week of my last post that it got really bad. So I went to the dentist. Turns out that I had two very infected wisdom teeth. He believes that my body spending all it's time on fighting my wisdom tooth infection was lowering my immune system, causeing me to get sick more frequently. Made sense. Anyways, I had to get the tooth out asap. So I did.

If anyone has ever had complications in a wisdom tooth surgery you will know how painful it is. I had a mild dry socket, but much worse, I clench my jaw when I sleep. Normally, this is okay, but since I'd just had surgery, it was casing my muscles to spasm. I was on some good stuff, but still the pain was so bad that I would just cry. Basically I felt like I was sucker punched in the jaw by someone who knew what they were doing. And underneath that was a dry socket. Not fun. Every evening the muscles would start to work themselves out, but by the next morning the pain was worse than the day before. Really not fun.

So sorry that I haven't been posting, but that is where I have been! I am much better now. Still eating liquid foods and ice cream, but tonight will be my first night going out in about two weeks! I am so freaking bored! I am participating in the chili cook-off for Geneca, the company my husband works for. I came in dead last at the cook-off last year so I have some honor to win back this time.

I hope to start back to my normal blog schedule this week. I actually have been reading your blogs, but been a bit too incoherent to comment anything :)

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