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July, 2009:

What we liked to eat

Dining out or eating in, food was a big part of our life.  We stayed away from most of the chains and fast food places.  We found restaurants we frequented because something about it made us come back.  Some we haven’t visited in a while but they still rank high on our lists.

Here’s some of our fav’s

Late night – Taco Burrito House
Dine-in Mexican – Uncle Julio’s Hacienda
Italian – Rose Angelis
Pizza – Palermo’s and Ledo’s…among many others
Steak – Chicago Chop House & Jack Gibbon’s
Chinese – Chi Tung and PF Changs 
Sandwiches – Jimmy John’s & Portillo’s
Wings – Bird’s Nest
Soup – Soup Box
Thai – Penny’s Noodles
Stir-Fry – Mongolian Grill
Burgers – Muskie’s
Tapas – Cafe Ba-ba-reeba

What she liked to eat.  I probably didn’t pay the best attention to the little details, but here’s my shot at it.

Thai – Beef Pad Thai & more recently Hot Pepper Noodle as well as Japanese Gyoza’s and Spring Rolls
Chinese – Beef Fried Rice & Vegetable Egg Roll, Mongolian Beef, Orange Chicken
Ice Cream – Brownie Sundae’s with Cookie Dough, Whip Cream & Nuts (the cherry went to me).  Most recently Ben & Jerry’s Chunky Monkey and Half Baked
Soups – French Onion
Burgers – Cheese w/ketchup & lettuce & French Fries
Steak – Rib Eye (Chop House), Prime Rib (Gibbons)
Sandwiches – #2 @ Jimmy Johns (Roast Beef) & potato chips
Pizza  – Cheese
Breakfast – Crepes with Strawberries


Beer – Miller Lite / Bud Light
Wines – Johannesburg Riesling, Pinot Nior
Pop – Diet Pepsi (even for breakfast sometimes)

This is still a work in progress, so more to come

Rose Angelis … Our Fav

Probably our favorite restaurant all time is Rose Angelis in Lincoln Park.  I shouldn’t say probably because this would have absolutely been top on both our lists.  I can’t even tell you how many times we’ve been there.  Even when we moved to the burbs we still made it a point to make specific trips just to eat there or to stop by when we were already in the city.

Cari’s favorite dish was Mezzalune al burro- spinach pasta half moons stuffed with ricotta and pesto served in a seasoned brown butter sauce with sundries tomatoes, toasted pine nuts and parmagiana.  My favorite weekday dish (because they only served it Sun – Thurs) was Aged New York Strip medium rare, peppercorn crusted 16 oz steak finished with gorgonzola and sautéed onions served with grilled asparagus and sun dried tomato mashed potatoes.  My weekend dish varied.  I would always wait to hear the specials and would often choose the Manicotti.  But the Lasagna is great too.  Oh yeah, and their seasonal specials with pears, apples, or pumpkin are always top picks. 

And then there’s the desert.  Besides the amazing food and ambiance are the deserts.  We never (well maybe just once) went there and didn’t save room for desert.  We always ordered the chocolate and carmel covered strawberries.  Sometimes we would get more, especially for Cari if there was something with a brownie or a tempting chocolate dish.  She definitely had a sweet tooth.  I think one of the first times, if not the first time, we were there and the service was a little questionable.  The waitress ended up giving us two deserts for free.  I think we were sold without the extra length they went to make sure we were happy, but it certainly didn’t hurt.

And then there’s Maeve, the bar across the street.  We, as well as many others, would walk over to Maeve while waiting for a table.  Rose Angelis doesn’t normally take reservations so the wait is around an hour or more at peak times on the weekends.  Maeve made it so that the wait didn’t matter.  We’d hang out for a martini or two and would just sit and chat til our table was called.

We really loved going here.


It has been a while since our last trip.  I think we visited there a total of 4 times together, maybe 5.  We stayed at the Monte Carlo our first time followed by New York New York and MGM Grand.  I think we did MGM Grand twice.

One of the times there it actually snowed, which is a bit unusual for Vegas but we didn’t complain too much because it’s normally really hot.  However, we really didn’t pack for snowy weather and in fact expected to lay by the pool.  So instead we gambled, took advantage of the drinks and walked the strip.

Our game was table blackjack … and then the blackjack slots once we ran low on money … and then nickle slots if we really ran low on money.   We were total virgins to the game the first time there but the dealers and other people were almost always ready to teach you.  But  you would soon learn the things you’re not supposed to do, like busting when you should have let the dealer bust.  It wasn’t a tough game for us to pick up and eventually we had things down to a science … when to double down, when to stay, when to split, when to hit.

We always had plenty of fun there.  We never went expecting to come home winners, but there was one time where everything seemed to be on our side.  Unlike one of the previous visits where I think I split Ace’s 7 times and didn’t win a thing because the dealer got 21 too, this time was different.

One of the last times, maybe the last time we were there, we had a streak of luck like no other. 

We usually played conservatively.  We would each start with $40 (at $10 tables) and once it was gone we would get up and go somewhere else.  It was a good plan because we wouldn’t ever get into a big hole.  Even if Cari lost her $40, I would loan her some of mine so that we could keep playing together.  And then once we would start winning, we would put that original $40 back in our pocket and play with the winnings.  If we kept winning, we would continue to put money into our pocket and pretend as if it wasn’t there … and it usually worked, although sometimes that $40 burned a hole in our pocket.

This last time we had some good luck at MGM Grand and then decided to go to downtown Vegas … old Vegas I think.  The same place that was featured on National Lampoon’s Vegas Vacation.  This is where we ran into our streak.  I think we went at least 4 full decks without losing a hand.  And not only were we winning but we were doubling down constantly on $25, $50, & $75+.  Before we knew it we had stacks of black chips in front of us.  We’re not high rollers so this was super exciting for us.  

To this day we would talk to people about the streak of luck we had.

We always wanted to go back.  Just to have some fun.  Once we started having kids we put the Vegas vacation on hold but planned to go back in the not-to-distant future.

So, tell me about Cari…

For some reason it was hard for me to answer this question, really hard.  Maybe it was the fact that a stranger was asking me this.  It’s not something someone who knew her would ever ask so I was a bit unprepared.

It felt like it took me a good 10 minutes to say anything at all … she was funny, outspoken, loved being a mom, wanted a big family, loved life, loved being around friends and family … that’s about as far as I got with that question before I just couldn’t go any further. 

Eventually I was asked, what’s the hardest thing for me right now.

Talking about her 4 sure.  It’s easy to avoid.  It’s certainly not easy to avoid thinking about her because I think about her constantly.  However, it’s easy to walk away from a discussion about her even though it’s something I know I need to do.

Even though it’s usually easier to write about this stuff, at this very moment I’m struggling to find the words.  I’m EXHAUSTED…going non-stop.  It’s one thing to have to deal with the loss but a completely other issue to have a couple kiddies that demand a lot of your energy as well as a job that you need to focus on so that the income continues to come in … how I desire time off so that I can get back on my feet.  Any chance I can win the lottery soon?


She never liked taking the kids to get their shots.  It would make her so sad because they would just scream and scream.  C got some yesterday and today he’s not having the greatest of days…clingy and irritable it seems.  Thank goodness it’s a cool day today so that he’s not overheated too.  It’s got to be in the high 60’s or something…certainly not usual Chicago July weather.  I don’t mind it though because it’s comfortable and there doesn’t seem to be much humidity.

Other than the shots the doctor said he’s looking good.  Our pediatrician is absolutely fantastic.  I’m so happy we found her.  At least in all this there’s one thing that I don’t have to worry about and that’s having someone I can always turn to to give me reliable advice for the kiddies.  We were really lucky to find her.