Finding Balance in February

This month has been about finding a balance for me. Knowing that it’s okay to grab that drink or have the 4th slice of pizza. I have learned so much about myself this past month and it has been amazing to live through.

SLEEP IN OMELETTES
I have been capitalizing on my work from home day once a week, which allows me to make a great breakfast. Fake omelettes & roasted sweet potatoes are my go to.

  1. Roast up some veggies // pour egg whites in a pan & cover until cooked // combine the two
    2. Thinly slice tater // spray with coco oil & salt // broil in oven for 3-5 minutes
    3. Always add avocado

NATTY PIZZA DAY
I tried & failed to wear all of my pizza clothing - I only made it through my 3 slice baby shirts, leaving 6 other guys in the closet. Marquee of course was the place we called home all day.

First Round: Salad // Breakfast Pizza // Squashed pizza
Second Round: Stracc // Hand to mouth pizza // Sweet Angelo Pizza

LIFE CHANGES

These past couple months have been HUGE for me. I have been able to get rid of the fear. I have been able to learn to be loved - not from others, but by myself and by Him. I have been able to let go - because I am not the one in control here. It has been an amazing journey coming to Christ and I am excited for the next chapter!

CALIFORNIA - TAKE ME HOME

This job can be stressful, but I had the chance to fly out to Newport Beach for the PacNet conference - which was an amazing opportunity. The conference itself was very enlightening and we were able to hear from Alison Levine, which was beyond enlightening. They also served up some amazing food with an In-N-Out food truck and a taco bar for lunches.

CHICAGO FOOD FEST

A weekend with no events doesn’t exist in our world, so when we get that beautiful gift we take advantage. 24 hour road trip to Chicago to eat (drink) or way through parts of the city. Here are all the details.

NEW MAMA SNACKS

One of my best friends just had a beautiful baby boy, so I used this opportunity to make all of the goodies.

SALADS & SANGIRA

Sometimes the crew just wants to grab a drink, or three or four - so we have to find a balance somewhere. I generally try to order salads at least as an appetizer when drinking and/or eating out to (attempt to) fill up. But let’s be real…I am the queen of snacks.

SNACKS ON SNACKS ON SNACKS

…which brings me to snacks! My 3 go-tos are:

  • almond milk lattes with skinny mocha sauce

  • popcorn - seriously it’s a PROBLEM. I go through a bag of kernels a week

  • mug cakes: 1 scoop protein powder, 1/2 ts baking powder, 1/4 c almond milk -
    the best is to top with some whipped cream & other goodies. pictured here is my favorite topper - a sarris chocolate covered pretzel.

VEGGIES ON COMMAND

A couple favorite dinners from this month

  1. Zucchini pie from Pinch of Yum - I opted for no corn, add chicken, and less cheese

  2. All of the veggies + chicken + fried egg

  3. Mexican stuffed bell peppers

SELF APPRECIATION

The time I tried to curl my hair and failed. the time the lighting made me feel like I had an ab. and the time I wore a duke shirt under my clothes to work for the big rivalry.

birthday month - here we come

Chicago Food Fest

So - in our world of athletics, we work a lot of weekends - I mean majority of them. So when we had a weekend with no events, we capitalized on the moment to take on chicago for a quick road trip. my best friend, Trisha & I ran with it (key the itinerary and bitmojis of us and our friend Kevin). ready? We weren’t…

FIRST STOP: CHICAGO BAGEL AUTHORITY

well - let’s just say this place is pure danger. If you know me, you know I already checked out the menu, but It still took me a good 10 minutes to pick my poisons. I went for the hangover helper - ham, cheese & eggs and Spaulding’s Choice - turkey, american cheese, lettuce, tomato & avocado

NEXT STOP: POPS

We posted up the car, and caught an uber (who was absolutely amazing) and headed to POPS - Trisha’s favorite place on earth. We stopped for two drinks & a few gummies - thanks to the waitress for bringing some over after I got a litttttle too excited that trisha’s drink came with one.
Smokey Hollow - Bourbon Whiskey / Blueberries / Thyme Syrup / Cava and the Italian Tale - Aperol / Averna Amaro / Lime / Prosecco

NEXT STOP: THREE DOTS AND A DASH

after getting lost in an alley - we found the correct alley to walk into this basement tiki bar. Other than it being very dark, It was a very cool place. for starters - I am obsessed with this skull wall. I got the BOURBON COCKTAIL - Bonded Bourbon, Jamaican Pot Still Rum, Rolled Oat Orgeat, Madeira, Lemon, Cinnamon, Allspice. I was blown away by this drink - the touch of cinnamon was clutch.

NEXT STOP: FADO IRISH PUB

crossing off another stop on our list - an irish pub. It also worked out really well to be able to catch a glimpse of the duke game and to get some snacks. Went for a standard old fashion - but was excited for the double cherries. Trisha & I split SMOKED Salmon Bites - cold oak-smoked salmon with capers, onions, light horseradish sauce, lemon, cucumber slices - these were AMAZINGGG. The boys opted for the The Big Soft Pretzel - freakishly big Bavarian pretzel with whole grain mustard and cheese sauce.

THE MAIN SHOW: FORNo ROSSO

Trisha and I had already scoped out the menu and knew exactly what we wanted to get and let the guys pick one of them. Drink of choice: Negroni.
The THREE ZA’s (CLOSET TO FURTHEST):
1. capricciosa - san marzano tomatoes, artichokes, kalamata olives, mushrooms, prosciutto cotto ,pecorino romano, fior di latte mozzarella, basil
2. pistacchio pizza - pistacchio pesto, locally sourced sausage, fior di latte mozzarella, basil (MY FAV)
3. Affumicata - smoked mozzarella di bufala, hot sopressata, roasted bell peppers, fior di latte mozzarella

THE ONE OFFS

LONE WOLF TAVERN
This stop was actually before forno rosso but since I only snagged one photo - i slotted it with the others. I stuck with the aperols - this was a quick little stop waiting for our reservation.

the press room
This was an awesome basement wine bar where we split a bottle of rose - really cool vibes

backdoor saloON
This was definitely the most interesting spot, but settled down for another cocktail & called it a night

THE LAST STOP: SAWADA COFFEE

Still obsessed with these little skull guys.the next morning, we planned on hitting up the publican - but due to potential bad roads, we decided to skip out on brunch and head back to good ol’ iowa city. but first - I made everyone stop at sawada for my military latte and a glorious doughnut vault almond doughnut. I just wish I got one of each.

UNTIL NEXT TIME CHICAGO - ILYSM.

Slice of Life

SLICE OF LIFE

So here’s the thing - life is busy, hectic and let’s admit it a little bit crazy. 2018 was all of that wrapped up all in one.

As one of my good friends pointed out, 2019 jump started pretty quickly - one for me that was filled with some major lows but also the highest of highs. I’m not throwing January away, but starting off February with a new mindset and outlook on life.

If anybody knows anything about me, they know food is my first love and this girl has got to eat. My life revolves around when and what I am going to eat next - but there are many other layers to this life that I live.
Now let’s get to the point….i’m not saying this will become a lifestyle blog (we all know I don’t have any beauty / fashion tips) but I will be adding a FEW MORE SLICES of my life..

To get things going, here is a fast track of January….

Started off the New Year with some great friends, a dreamy charcuterie board (by me), and legendary Old Fashioned (not by me)

Not everything has changed - Marquee is still a staple - whether it is trying their collaboration of the month, being their taste tester, or marking another Stracc on the books.

Spent my days with some solid people.

Learned to perfect somethings in the kitchen - an omelette, alternative pizza crusts & crispy salmon.

….and let’s be real selfies are here to stay.

2019 started off strong & wild - but we are ready for it







CHI TOWN TOOK US DOWN

...okay it really didn't take us down, but my food baby is still kicking. 

I'd be the one to argue that timing is usually not in my favor - however this one weekend it worked out perfectly. Ethan was moving into his new place in Chicago and my sister, Lyndsy was going to be in Chicago for a concert - PERFECT TIMING! 

Thursday was a long hellish day of moving - starting early morning to pack up the U-HAUL, making it to Chicago at 8:30 pm to then unpack the U-HAUL until 2 am. (TIP - Don't try to move a king tempurpedic mattress by yourself).

Friday

We had a bit of a late start with Lyndsy's plane being delayed TWO hours because the pilot no showed...never even heard of that before. Once she got into town, we didn't waste any time. First stop - Au Cheval. Now if you are any sort of a foodie, you KNOW they are known for their burger...and their very long wait time. Being the smart thinkers that we are (and the paranoid person I am), I had Lyndsy jump out and put in our name before finding a parking spot. Shockingly we only had a 30-40 minute wait, unshockingly it took us that long to find a parking spot (West Loop is DEATH). 

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Let me tell yall - this burger did NOT disappoint. We split the single (which is actually a double) with bacon. Guys...just you have to. Its to die for...seriously, I'd die for it. 

The next stop has a special place in my heart and I want to move in. Sawada Coffee, is another Hogsalt company (aka my dream company) and the vibes were on point. Grunge with patio lights....serving up matcha, doughnuts and alcohol. SIGN ME UP! 

I got the Military Latte, which is essentially a matcha latte with a shot of espresso and topped with cocoa powder. HOLY HELL - it was the answer to all my prayers. The espresso cut any sweetness from the matcha and also gave you the extra kick of caffeine, that let's be real, we all want. Sawada ALSO serves Doughnut Vault (another Hogsalt co) - we snagged a buttermilk togo (we will come back to this). 

Some site seeing was in order next - from Maggie Daley park to Buckingham Palace (LOL JK, I know its Fountain), we ended up at Willis Tower. After an ear popping elevator ride, we made it to the top. Snagged a few pictures around the deck and waited in line for the look out point. Side note - we were casually watching everyone do their poses while waiting in line, but once you get in the box it is intimidating AF to have everyone starting at you. Anyways, we made it to the front of the line...and Lyndsy couldn't look down (it was funny), but we struck a few poses and called it good. Also, it WAS Natty doughnuts day, so I had to shamelessly take a ridiculous photo with my socks and doughnut...which I had been carefully holding outside of my backpack the whole time. 

After Willis, we met up with Ethan to grab our bags and head to our Aunt & Uncle's place. BUT we were both getting hangry and we decided to FINALLY split this beloved doughnut. Before we could devour, Lyndsy had to snap a quick picture...which almost resulted in the doughnut crumbling to its death...but don't worry I saved it and the doughnut was DELICIOUS. 

Dinner was at Summer House, which was also on my Chicago weekend list. Summer House gives you all the vibes of the beach without the annoyance of the sand. I mean this decor is on point.

Lyndsy got the Weekender (there was matcha in it - duh) and I went for the Hootenany (bourbon, blackberry & rhubarb bitters ). I went for a pasta dish, which is very unlike me however the morel mushrooms, pesto and gnocchi were calling my name. The pasta was great, but I felt like I could have eaten more...which is where The Market comes into play. 

The Market is a bakery in the lobby area of the restaurant. Yall...these cookies are the size of my face and I ate 1.5. I personally ordered the one with Rice Krispie chunks but got a bite or so off of everyone else's - peanut butter chocolate chip, oatmeal apple & good 'ol chocolate chunk. I can't wait to go back and get some of these bad boys for an ice cream sandwich. 

Saturday

After the food comma Friday, we planned to walk around the city while snagging a few more good eats. First stop - La Colombe. Now I've had their canned latte (It's at HyVee!) which is unreal, but I went for an oat milk latte - yes, yes yes please. 

Next up, we met our cousin at Left Coast - which is a place I've been dying to try. It is super "basic" as my cousin put it - kale everything, juices galore, and health health health - BUT it was tasty and exactly what I needed from the day before. 

LeftCoast1.JPG

Lyndsy & I split the Guapo - turkey chorizo, egg whites, roasted red pepper, avocado, roasted hominy, spinach, salsa verde wrapped in a whole wheat wrap. Our cousin got the Chronic - steak, 7-minute egg, avocado, carrots, red onion, spinach, chimichurri. SO SO good and fresh. 

We had decided to sit outside, which was great for the first 30 minutes but then got really chilly...so what do you get on a windy Chicago day? MATCHA!

Gueen.JPG

A few google searches later we found a place called - Two Hearted Queen. Although the matcha doesn't hit my top 5 (don't get me wrong, it was really good - I just have had a lot of matcha). I LOVED this quant little neighborhood café and the staff was amazing. Also, since it was our first time they play a little game with you - if you choose the Queen of Hearts out of a deck you get your order 50% off (I picked an Ace.)

Then back to our family's place to get ready for dinner and to send the crew off to the concert! Luckily, the concert and dinner was in the South Loop, which is where Ethan just moved to - so we were all able to meet up for dinner with the whole crew. (The crew included three 14-16 year old girls and their moms en route to a T.Swift concert)

Now I just might think a lot of places are hidden gems because I know nothing about Chicago, but if you don't know about Café Bionda, you should. 

Started off with a very strong Negroni, just a few days shy of Negroni week and some French bread. They also serve their bread with olive oil/parm AND marinara sauce. I ordered the chicken Milanese with roasted veggies - I honestly could have just had a big bowl of the veggies and been a happy camper. They also have a secret menu of pizza, which a couple of the girls ordered (I snagged the extras to take home for leftovers and it was goooood thin crust pizza). Thee real show stopper was the meat lasagna. My picture in no way does this justice, but it was by far the best lasagna Ethan and I have ever had. It was more cheesy than saucy, which created this creamy texture...yall, I'm drooling thinking about it. 

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After dinner, the rest of the crew headed to the concert and Ethan and I headed home. The rest of the weekend included shopping, cleaning, organizing, and eating leftover pizza.  

SliceBaby takes the PNW

OFF TO THE PNW

With year 25 coming to a fast close, I had the sudden realization that I've never taken a "real trip" before.

DISCLAIMER: I am well traveled and have been very lucky with volleyball (high school & college) as well as family getaways to have had some amazing trips in my lifetime.
DISCLAIMER #2: I am not spontaneous and this trip was decided within a week and booked with two weeks before departure date. 

Day 1: Chicago - Seattle

Of course my first pit stop was Whole Foods and then off to the airport with an obligatory travel caffeine pick me up. We ended up staying with a really good family friend (Thanks Karma & John!) which was great to catch up and see their new Seattle home base. Karma had these Angry Orchard Rosé's on hand that I had been wanting to try as well as some CPK pizzas ready to go for us - both pretty damn tasty. 

Day 2: Seattle - Vancouver - Squamish

Of course first thing's first was coffee - I got a match latte & Ethan got a mocha from this cute place Third Culture in Bellevue. We then ventured out way to Vancouver - we were very lucky and hit little to no traffic even crossing the border. After getting some cash switched over we hunted down some food. We couldn't resist the smell of Belgian waffles, so we made a quick stop in Nero for 2 mini Belgian waffles (almond & plain). I could have devoured this whole case. After much debate we finally settled on a lunch spot, Peaked Pies. We got the Butter ChickenIndiana Butter Chicken with a hint of Cayenne & Chunky Pepper SteakChunky steak pieces in a cracked pepper sauce. My first meat pie experience did NOT disappoint.

Then it was time to for some views. We drove across Lions Gate Bridge to Stanley Park to get some great views of Totem Poles & the water. Next stop was my favorite stop of the trip - Lynn Canyon Park. We ended up hiking around this park for a while, but the main showstopper is the suspension bridge. This place was stunning. We continued our drive to Squamish, BC with a few stops on the way - one random lookout where the water was like glass and then another pitstop at Shannon Falls (cue the waterfall). 

After checking into our AirBNB we needed some food - ASAP. Ethan had been recommended this brewery/pizza joint when he was there last in early January so we decided to give it a try. Backcountry Brewing was a hit - small place that fit about 50 people. Their beers were solid & their pies were better...can we also talk about that view?! I got the Sour Bastard Beer, E got the Trailbreaker Pale Ale. For pizzas we got the Margherita - San Marzano tomato sauce, taleggio, fior de latte, parmigiana grana padano, mozzarella & ProsciuttoSan Daniel prosciutto, roasted red pepper, arugula, chili, San Marzano tomato sauce. Let me just say, we left satisfied. I loved everything about this place - especially people watching the townies. Following dinner was a stop at the local Walmart for some essentials - I don't quite know how to explain it but was definitelyy different "food shopping" experience. 

Day 3: Squamish - Whistler

So, if you don't know me - you don't know how uncoordinated of a human being I am. Take the D1 athlete out of it and I am a 6 foot tall Bambi. But...despite my better judgement, I decided to go skiing for the first time at Whistler Blackcomb. With a new ski jacket, Ethan's old ski pants and the rental boots, skis & helmet I was semi ready to go. We made it through a couple bunny hills, one chair lift and one green run....with only a few tears and a lot of patience (on Ethan's end)/ 

That black circle was my home base - we have video...but I am not showing them. 

Whistler also has a Peak2Peak Gondola - which held the world record for the longest free span between ropeway towers— (1.88 miles) until 2017. It is still the highest point above the ground (1,430 feet). Man...was this beautiful. We rode the Gondola across to the Blackcomb mountain, had some chili (not pictured) rode it back, where Ethan then proceeded to ski down the mountain as I rode the Gondola down. 

Last thing, but of course not least was dinner. I had seen Mag's 99  on a few lists but was still a little nervous. Yet again, we were not disappointed. The former Taco Bell / KFC chain kept the tradition with Mexican and fried chicken, but kept the layout as well. We ordered a taco salad & burrito to go. Taco Saladcrispy flour tortilla bowl, lime vinaigrette, crispy romaine, chicken, pico, lime slaw, cheese, guac, beans & salsa. Holy Hell yall - I have never been more satisfied from a taco salad before in my life. The night ended with binge watching ManHunt & eating popcorn in bed. 

Day 4: Squamish - Whistler - Vancouver - Seattle

I tapped out on skiing after one day, so Ethan took the slops and I took the Village. I posted up at this little coffee shop called Lift for yet another Matcha latte. After a couple hours of searching where to go to eat, I walked around and ended up posting up at the bottom of the slopes - it was a BlueBird day as they call it and absolutely perfect. I also got a free beanie from Roots! We were then on the road all the way back to Seattle - with one more view pitstop at the Mt. Tantalus look out.

One more stop in Vancouver for some Asian Fusion at Bao Down's Gastro Pub. The vibe in this place was amazing with old school movie posters & music plus the food was to die for. I got the Same Same but Different - pad thai with cage free eggs & chicken, Ethan got the Fly Rice - cooked sisig style, water chestnuts, herbs, garlic fried rice, XO sauce, sunny egg & chicken. I think I could have ordered everything on that menu. 

One more latte for the road from Blenz Coffee (repeat our Hazelnut Mochas & Matcha latte's all week) to use up the last bit of our Canadian money. Rolling into Seattle, dinner was late night pizza from Big Marios - New York Style.

Day 5: Seattle - Chicago

With very little time in Seattle, we decided to make the most of it and head over to Pike Place. It was a little overwhelming with everything going on, but we ended up at the local diner for an easy breakfast. Sidebar - I am still kicking myself for not going to Honest Biscuit or Biscuit Bitch. We did get away with some amazing dried strawberries & kumquats. 

The obligatory Gum Wall happened with a little gem in the alley - Ghost Alley Espresso for our last latte of the trip. Tucked away in the corner of the alley they made their own syrups and I tried my first oat milk latte. They got bonus points for having some DubbleBubble as we did not plan ahead for our gum debut. 

After a long day of travel and finally getting back to Chicago, we opted for some Pequods deep dish pizza to cap off the weekend...just a casual pizza 4 times out of 5 days! 

Now I have the travel bug...where to next?