imageMy husband and I like trying new beers. We’re beer people, and it’s one of our hobbies.  In honor of Chicago Craft Beer Week, I’d learned of the Chicago Craft Beer FESTIVAL, and decided it might be fun to attend.  With tickets – each including a 3oz sample glass and 15 drink tickets – each running about $45, I’d practically written it off.  Then, magically, a deal appeared on Groupon for admission for two – including a sample glass and 15 tickets per person – for $45, I jumped on it.  I also had a discount code for Groupon, so I wound up paying $40 for my husband and I to attend. 



I had a good time at the festival, and feel like I got my money’s worth, despite a few annoying things that, had I paid full price, I might be steaming about.

First, though, the good! It was a beautiful day to wander around a festival, and we tried many delicious brews.  Our favorites were the Tallgrass Brewing Co. Buffalo Sweat (an oatmeal cream stout), the Local Option Morming Wood (a coffee amber) and the Rude Hippo Honey Basil brews.  We tried lots of beers.  Honestly, none of the brewfolk were taking the actual drink tickets, so we could have drank non-stop for four hours and no one would have cared.  When we left, we handed our remaining 29 (of 30) tickets to some festival late-comers.  Everyone in attendance was in a friendly mood. It was nice to be out and about at an adult event sans our kiddo.  We love him madly, and he spent a lovely afternoon at his friend’s house, so everyone had a good time.  Also, like I said, I paid less than Buy One Get One Free for admission, so I think it was a good deal.

The bad!  Mainly, that this was a horribly organized event.  We had these advance tickets, but the festival was held inside another festival.  Arriving, we got herded into a long and confused line of people who didn’t know why we were in line.  My husband ventured to the front of the line to find out that we all had to get wrist-banded before we could go into the actual beer festival.  This was fine, but having one person there to tell us why were in line would have eased a lot of confusion.  The line didn’t take very long, and we were soon inside.  It is obvious that this event was oversold – it was “elbows to assholes” the whole time we were there.  This was not helped by the fact that the breweries were all under white tents, with no evidence from outside the tents of who was where.  There were maps around, but very few people had them.  (I got one at one point, and countless people asked me where I’d found it.) Essentially, it was a big game of “hold your glass and hang on” as we fought line after line to get to sample the brews. 

Also, there were only these 5 port-a-potties for, I’m estimating, 1000 people?



Despite annoyances, we wound up having a nice time and certainly sampled a wide variety of beers.  I’m glad we attended the first day of the fest, as some breweries seemed to be running out of things by 2:30pm.  

Will we return? Probably not. But it was fun nonetheless.


Cheers! Drink responsibly!



Good Friday Things

Five good/frugal/healthy things I did this week.

1.  I rescued a perfectly good laundry basket from being thrown in the dumpster of the apartment building next door.  It shall first be used to hold toys at next weekend’s yard sale, and then it shall go into kiddo’s closet at the new apartment to be his very own laundry basket. (Currently, he shares mine.)

2.  I started yoga, taking advantage of a $29/2-week unlimited new student special at Andersonville’s gorgeous and friendly Yoga Tree.  My first class was last night, and it was hard and sweaty and I am not at all bendy, but it was wonderful and I left totally rejuvenated.

3.  Tonight, some friends are dropping us off some boxes for moving and we’re going to dinner at a new place in our ‘hood I’m very excited about – using a Restaurant.com gift certificate.

4.  Yesterday, while out and about, I failed to bring my own iced coffee.  However, I spun it in the right direction – and went to First Slice Cafe for coffee rather than Starbucks.  I kept it local AND First Slice does a ton for local hunger causes. Also, their coffee is delicious.

5.  We made sushi at home last night.  And it was delicious.

:)  Have a good weekend! 

Better begins here.


I took this picture of myself yesterday in the clothes I plan to wear to yoga class.  I’m starting yoga class tonight, because I’m feeling stiff and old and not-centered lately, and I think this might be a good way to relieve that.  I’m not sleeping great, and my anxiety is flaming up pretty frequently.  I don’t love the picture, but I’m going to share it here because I want to be honest in my real life and online.

The time has come to make some changes.  In 2008, I lost 50 pounds through intense calorie counting, multiple workouts a day, and the glory of Sparkpeople.com.  Six years later, and a wife and mom, I’m back to my previous weight, but obviously I can’t do all that again.  Nor do I want to.  It was a singular quest taken by a younger woman purely to “get thin” – other positive effects (clearer skin, better sleep, etc) were a bonus.

At age 32,  my goals are different.  I want to be more relaxed, happier, and change from my current high-stress/low-energy ways into a person who will be around in the world for my husband and son for a long time, and also to be someone they want to have around.  This means eating cleaner, getting more exercise, and spending more time outside.  Kiddo and I were outside for five hours today, doing nothing in particular, and it felt great.  I’m sure weight loss will accompany these lifestyle changes, and that’s cool and all, but it’s not the ultimate goal.  The goal is to be happier and healthier and all-around better.  I’d like to be around for a long time. I still have things to do. ;)

For being a major metropolis, Chicago is a city that values it’s outdoor space and does wonderful things with parks.  No one will argue that Millennium Park, located on the lake shore right downtown, is a marvel of outdoor beauty.  Boasting iconic attractions like The Bean, this 24.5 acre section of the bigger Grant Park – in which Buckingham Fountain, Shedd Aquarium, Adler Planetarium, and the Field Museum also reside – is simply awesome.

Today is the 10th anniversary of the opening of Millennium Park, and though we didn’t realize that fact until we were down there (how’s that for timing?), we joined in the celebration.  

The original intent of our trip was to see my husband for lunch and catch the Grant Park Orchestra’s open rehearsal for their evening performance as part of the Grant Park Music Festival.  This fest, lasting through the summer, brings amazing musical performances to Millennium Park at the Jay Pritzker Pavillion, which is itself a remarkable structure.  While arena seats are available for purchase, the lawn is open and free to anyone who wants to bring a blanket and listen to some gorgeous performances. In addition, on the afternoon before pretty much any evening performance, there is an open rehearsal that you can catch.  As the mom of a rowdy toddler, attending an afternoon rehearsal rather than the serious and busy evening performance eases my mind a bit.  The kids can wander and dance, and no one cares.  Tonight, the orchestra is playing along with the BBC’s The Blue Planet documentary, so we grabbed some lunch from Panera Bread and sat in the grass, listening to a good chunk of the rehearsal complete with a screen showing the acclaimed film.  imageBeforehand, however, my son headed right for his favorite part of Millennium Park – Crown Fountain.  With the kind of reckless abandon only a toddler still has, he dove into the water and was soon soaked.  Oh well, he was delighted to run and splash around for a while, and it was a warm enough day that he didn’t freeze.  (He’s also taking a long nap right now, which is an added bonus.)


Crowne Fountain.

Millennium/Grant Park is an awesome – and totally free – place to spend a few hours.  There’s easy access pay parking in the Millennium Park garage, but a wide variety of CTA bus and train stops are super close as well.  Head outside and check out the park!

Yard Sale: Prepping!


Thank goodness for this portable clothes rack I’ve had since my theater days.

Lest we forget that on top of moving to a new apartment, I’m having a yard sale in two weeks.  Now that I have an official permit from the City of Chicago – which was a totally easy process that basically involved filling out a piece of paper and taking a recent bill to the Alderman’s office – I’m going crazy with prepping for the sale.  My sweet, wonderful husband is being marvelously patient as I take over our lovely sunroom for the next two weeks for sorting and tagging, and over at my friend’s house she’s doing the same thing. It’ll be a rather epic sale, full of toddler boy and girl clothes and toys, household items, and loads of books. 

The leasing agent is going to start showing our apartment this week, so I hope the prospective tenants don’t think I’m a hoarder. 




Another beautiful box from Angelic Organics this week – carrots, cabbage, swiss chard, zucchini, squash, leeks, garlic scapes, lettuce, sage, and perhaps best of all – tons of cucumbers! Our kiddo loves cucumbers, and last year we swam in them for about a month thanks to this lovely farm.  We also have two kohlrabi, which befuddled me last year.  This year, I’m smarter, and I took immediately to Pinterest to see what can be done with them – tada! Kohlrabi chips? We’ll see what happens! 

I love the hustle and bustle of my darling Chicago as much as any hard-core resident of this messy and marvelous city, but sometimes a girl has to get away from it all.  We’re fortunate that both our families live in areas great for traveling to/vacationing at – mine from the natural beauty of Northern Michigan, my husband’s family from the terrific state of Texas. This time, we set off to visit my family and spend a relaxing week staying at a cute cabin and playing among the pretty inland lakes – and Great Lake Huron – of the northern part of the lower peninsula of Michigan.  This blog is about saving money, so I thought I’d share some of our wins while we were on the road.  While we certainly did some shopping and spending – most notably, a wine tasting and 4-bottle purchase from a local vineyard – we managed to keep it fairly budget-friendly, and I’m quite proud of our efforts.

7 free/inexpensive things we did on our vacation -

1. We packed a picnic for our road trip TO Michigan.  Our trip took eight days, so to prevent our food – especially our CSA vegetables from going bad – I packed salads in jars and made kale chips, in addition to bringing Goldfish crackers, pretzels, and other things from our pantry.  We totally stopped at Culver’s for fried awesomeness on the way home as a final huzzah to vacation, but at least on the way there we killed it. We also got to sit riverside at Comstock Riverside Park in Grand Rapids, MI for lunch – and kiddo got to throw rocks in the water and see some ducks.


2. We borrowed kayaks from a family friend – totally unexpectedly.  Our cabin happened to be on a nice & shallow end of Long Lake, which makes a great launch spot for kayaks, so some friends dropped off five of them and told us to use them whenever we wanted.  We’d never kayaked before, and it was really fun!


3. We took advantage of local attractions and events.  Obviously, with this many lakes, rivers, and ponds around, there is plenty to do.  We swam, collected seashells, threw rocks in the lake, took a walk in the woods, hunted frogs, took in the 4th of July parade and fireworks, listened to a Bruce Springsteen tribute band, went on a boat, squirted squirt guns, and generally had an outdoorsy good time.


4. I totally went thrifting with my Mom.  She’s my favorite partner in thrift store shopping, and we hit up the three major resale shops in my hometown for an afternoon looking for bargains. I got some cute shirts, a great little shelf unit for my husband to use in the new apartment, and a handful of new books – on sale for .10 each! – too.  We also had a lot of fun hanging out and looking at god-awful ugly clothes, which thrift stores are always full of.


5. I brought back some things from my stash of stuff to sell on the yard sale.  A huge suitcase full of it, in fact, and I even plan to sell the suitcase, which is big and pretty and was only used during my 3-week long college trip to Mexico.

6. We used my credit card for gas station purchases made along the way – since Chase is running 5% cash back points on purchases made at gas stations and Kohl’s this quarter.  Hey, if you can’t get out of buying gas…

7. I read a book that I found at our cabin. It was cheesy and predictable, and a perfect vacation read. I loved it.


So there.  We had an amazing vacation and even managed to be a little frugal along the way. We got home to Chicago last night, and used our last few hours with the rental car to go do some grocery shopping – Target, Aldi, and Marianos! Today we picked up our CSA vegetables and are doing a million household things to prepare for our yard sale in 2 weeks and our big move in 6 weeks.


Also, being springtime, the ants have invaded our kitchen.

Welcome home!






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