Living Life & Telling About It

“Instructions for living a life. Pay attention. Be astonished. Tell about it.” 
—  Mary Oliver

Last weekend my husband and I went down to Chicago to see some friends and have a little fun. We try to get down there at least once a year although I wish it were more often especially since it is only about three hours away. My mom came down to our house to babysit for us which didn’t bother our three-year-old one little bit. In fact as we pulled out of the garage, I could see our little girl jumping up and down as she stood next to my mom – waving away and giddy at the prospect of having Grandma all to herself for an entire weekend.

So away we went, iPod plugged in, Chicago 2011 playlist queued up, excitement spilling over as we headed down 41 towards a much-needed weekend of fine friends, good food and delicious fun.

Saturday morning we woke up to a beautiful sunny Autumn day. I was filled with so much energy and excitement that I was almost bouncing off the walls. We were getting ready to head out to meet my dear friend Noel Rozny – French Christmas for the first time in person!  I met Noel last December through Reverb 10.  She was a kindred spirit from day one.  The beauty in her writing is enough to send your soul aloft into the heavens even though your feet are planted firmly on the ground.

Noel and me - Kindred Spirits

Breakfast at Delicious Cafe - Gluten-free Vegan Breakfast Sandwich with Blueberry Rooibos Tea

My friend Brandon told us about this place called Delicious Cafe which serves vegan and gluten-free food. Noel was there to greet us when we walked in the door. She had the biggest smile and gave me a huge bear hug. It was like I had known her forever. It wasn’t like meeting someone new. It was seeing an old friend after a long time. That’s how it felt. She is everything she is online and much more. We ordered our food and teas and the four of us headed out to the back patio to sit outside and have some privacy.

What a wonderful visit we had. All four of us talking like old friends, laughing and sharing. I was impressed to find Noel shares our wicked sense of humor. Kindred spirit indeed! It was supremely delightful. I know I have a lifelong friend in Noel and I am so very blessed and grateful that we finally got to meet in person. I am already looking forward to our next visit. 🙂

After breakfast, Brandon, Jess and I headed towards the “L” stopping in little shops along the way. We found an awesome shop called Transistor . They had a ton of cool things. Our favorite was a homemade lamp/nightlight with a picture of one of the Brown Line stops on the “L”. (We stopped back on Sunday to buy one) Then it was time to hop on the “L” and head downtown!

The Brown Line at Addison

We didn’t really have any concrete plans for the day. We just spent the day being together and enjoying the moment.

Downtown Chicago

We didn’t get to Sears Tower as we’d hoped. It was just too busy downtown. But there’s always next time! Of course we made our annual pilgrimage to the Apple Store where I got to play around with the 11 inch MacBook Air and check out the new iPhones.

Then it was over to Marbles: The Brain Store to find a surprise for AnneShirley. Of course Brandon found a fabulous game – especially for writers – called “Story Cubes”. You get nine cubes with 54 images. Roll the cubes and come up with a story using the image that is face up. I had to get it so I did! Brandon and I played it when we returned home that night and laughed ourselves silly over the stories we were coming up with. Great fun! I highly recommend it!

Story Cubes

After Marbles, it was late afternoon and since we wouldn’t be eating supper until after nine, we stopped on over at Elephant & Castle for a bite to eat – just to tide us over. We overheard a couple at a nearby table saying they thought they saw Bill O’Reilly just before they stopped to eat. Who knows? In Chicago, anything is possible!

Jess & me enjoying a beer with Brandon at Elephant & Castle Calamari, Nachos and Chicken Curry with Fries

THEN, it was time to get back on the “L” and head home so we could rest up and get ready for supper.

Our friend Steve got home from work and away we all went to Machu Picchu – a Peruvian restaurant. The wait was about twenty minutes but well worth it! The food was nothing short of amazing!

We had Ceviche Mixto and Papa a la Huancaina – which is cold sliced potato with a sauce of mild yellow peppers and cheese.

Our main course was Lomo Fino al Pacifico which is grilled Filet Mignon and topped with a seafood combination sautéed in its own sauce.

It was BYOB (bring your own bottle) and Steve brought four delicious bottles of wine for us to try with our meal. Steve owns Vino 100 and is extremely knowledgeable about wines. So it is always a treat to see what he is going to spring on us when we visit.

Ceviche Mixto

Lomo Fino al Pacifico

It was our first experience with Peruvian food and it was absolutely beyond delicious.

Even though we were stuffed beyond measure and you had to almost roll us home, Brandon had a surprise dessert waiting for us when we got back to the house.

We haven’t been able to find a pint of Ben & Jerry’s Schweddy Balls ice cream by us. If you know your Saturday Night Live sketches, you’ll get the name.

It was every bit delicious as I thought it would be – vanilla ice cream with a hint of rum with fudge covered rum and milk chocolate malt balls.

Ben & Jerry's Schweddy Balls Ice Cream

What a delightful way to end a spectacularly fabulous Autumn day in Chicago – a day of living life, friends, food, laughter and fun!

We should all be so blessed!

0 thoughts on “Living Life & Telling About It

  1. Oh my goodness … I am so honored by all of your kind words!!! You are too sweet. You described the visit perfectly — I definitely felt like I knew you already and meeting you for coffee was something that we have always done. As the days get shorter and colder, your friendship warms my heart and I feel so very lucky to have met you! 🙂 To have someone so amazing share tea, laughs, thoughts and writing with is truly a gift. I NEED to make a trip out to see you in the future!! Thanks again for this awesome post. XOXO (PS We SO look like kindred spirits in that pic!!)

    • I feel the same way, Noel! Next time we come down, we want to do one of those wacky self-made scavenger hunts. Sounds silly, yes but also potentially life-tingling. Thoughts?

  2. Oh, LIKE, LIKE, LIKE this post! And so jealous! I only hope that I get to meet both you and Noel someday. Sounds like you had a fabulous trip, and I laughed out loud when I saw the dessert! I have to see if I can find some for my cousin, Lisa. We crack up over that skit every time we see it.

    I’m so glad you had a good time. We (the rest of your friends out here on the webs) were living vicariously through you!

    • You will. We will! I really believe that. We’ll make it happen!
      We did have a great time. The ice cream was so good! I heard they are pulling it off the shelves though because of a group of moms who are concerned it is too risqué for kids.

  3. This post made me smile, Tracy. It’s wonderful to hear about your visit with Noel and it’s true, Noel, you two not only are but LOOK like kindred spirits.

    Glad you’re living you’re life and lovin’ it. I’m delighted to share in your joys.

  4. Jealoussss!! This truly looked like a wonderful trip and nothing less than you deserve, Tracy! One day, I hope I’ll have the pleasure of meeting you and Noel! And Mary is completely right, you DO look like kindred spirits.

    • We will meet for sure. We will all have a blast. Onyi, I think our special little group of friends we’ve made online are truly kindred spirits in a myriad of ways. We are so lucky to have found one another – blessed.

  5. Awwww. I want to be there too! You two actually LOOK like kindred spirits — that photo of your eyes makes you look like sisters. It sounds like you had a wonderful trip, only capped off by that wonderful Mary Oliver quotation. Another one of my favorites that mirrors the spirit of this post, also by Mary Oliver: “I want to be a bride married to amazement.”

    Also, I heard about the Schweddy Balls ice cream (as well as about the fact that they recently retired the flavor before it was even properly released!) I am so happy someone I know bought it and photographed it!

    • Roxanne, thank you! I thought the quote fit perfectly for this weekend. Thank you a million times over for introducing me to her and also now to Donald Miller. They have and are coming to me at the perfect times. Truly. I love that last quote you posted above! Perfect!

      As for the ice cream, if you get a chance you must try it. I hope they bring it back. It is delish. 🙂 I am so happy Brandon saved us some to try. He’s not so bad after all. Shhhh! Don’t let him know I said that! HA!

  6. God, I am so happy to read this. Really, the two of you together just lights me up. And I’m so envious but I know that one day I’m going to get to do this with both of you. I choose to believe in awesome things like this today.

    This is exactly the way I like to spend a weekend in a city. I don’t necessarily like to have everything programmed out–I love just poking my nose into whatever happens to be on the street and staying open to whatever’s waiting for me. And GOD, that ice cream sounds amazing. (There’s a show on Canadian public radio that sounds JUST like Delicious Dish. In earnest. Half the time I listen to it, I’m thisclose to giggling.)

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