New Year’s Resolutions in Reverse: A Good-bye to 2013


The first few days of the New Year are upon us.

This can only mean one thing:

New. Year. Obligatory. Post.

Just in case the other 97627346 bloggers, hard-hitting CNN journalists (seriously – CNN – sometimes I think you’re punking me with your absurd headlines), and, as I found out today… , USA.GOV New Year’s Resolution website (what???) didn’t offer the right amount of predictable inspiration, I’m offering my two cents here.

Truthfully, I am a fan of this topic and New Year’s in general.

The ending of a year and the starting of a brand spanking new blank slate is pretty exciting.  It’s like the first day of school (brand new notebooks!!).

However, I don’t believe you can start a new chapter/list/notebook before you’ve properly closed off the previous one.

Last night, during a dinner party, one of the seven guests suggested we go around the table and have everyone say their “Best and Worst of 2013.”

The answers were real.  Some were funny.  All prompted reflection.  The worst: losing a job, learning of a family member’s illness, losing a pet; The best: passing an important exam, meeting newly special people, finding a new job.

In similar fashion, for today’s post, I’ve decided to recycle a popular idea I used a few months ago called The Reverse Bucket List and write a reverse New Year’s resolution list for 2013.

The following is a list of some self-improvements, goals, and personal attainments of 2013 (and, when appropriate, illustrative photos):

1)      Put effort into becoming closer with family members; find time to get to know extended family


Meeting second cousins for brunch

2)      Separate emotionally from surrounding drama

3)      Get back out on that ice and start figure skating/training/coaching again

ice skating figure skating

Back on the ice – starting a session

4)      Furnish/decorate an apartment from scratch

The completed "living room" in my first personal apartment

The completed “living room” in my first personal apartment

5)      Travel abroad for an “extended” vacation; leave worries/computers/cell phones behind


Taking it easy in Naxos, Greece

6)      Pick up a new fitness hobby

flywheel spin cycle

Attending Flywheel classes with friends

7)      Cook for myself more – learn to make new healthy staples

Yummy salad with homemade dressing

Yummy salad with homemade dressing

8)      Take advantage of new city

Hanging off the ledge at Sears Tower

Hanging off the ledge at Sears Tower

9)      Take advantage of new found proximity to family (with move to Chicago) and spend more time with little sister

roller coaster

Roller-coastering with lil sis

10)      Take steps to show some semblance of putting yourself first

11)      Learn to say no

12)      Bring down the mile-high fence/barricade/guard and give trust and a new relationship a chance

Ice skating at the zoo.  It snowed.  It was perfect.

Ice skating at the zoo in Chicago. It snowed. A friend snapped this when we weren’t looking.

Decidedly, 2013 was pretty good to me.

A great portion of the positive in 2013 stemmed from this blog.  Writing these posts, however inconsequential they may seem, has come to be a huge part of my life.  I love connecting with readers from my  backyard as well as all over the world.  I love reading what others are generating.  I love finding commonalities.

So thank you, friends, for making 2013 Awesome.

I think I’m ready for 2014.



Dinner Party on the Run


Last night I hosted a dinner party (aka book club).

My friends came over circa 8pm to find a spotless apartment (ready for its debut), a homemade three-course meal and wine (most importantly).

It was clean.  The food was tasty (so I’m told).  The apartment was show worthy.


If only they had been there one hour prior.

At 7:05pm CST, I was wearing pajamas (long underwear) while googling “fast salmon bake” and using my handheld vacuum to hoover everything from the kitchen floor and counters to the bathtub (admit you’ve done this).

I didn’t mean to be in such a crunch.

But what I’ve learned is that the old saying is true.

When it rains, it pours.

In all respects.

This week was one of the busiest I’ve had since moving to Chicago.  My working hours experienced an upward spike, I was needed to coach at the rink and I had plans to attend two events with some friends.  Not wanting to pass up any experiences in my new city, I was determined to do it all.

It was never a question of if but more a question of how.

For that reason, I found myself on the phone with my aunt poaching recipes at midnight the night before, at Macy’s during lunch (near my office) buying plates, at HomeGoods at 6:30pm purchasing wine glasses, at Trader Joe’s picking up dessert at 6:45pm, at the Jewel down the street picking up onion soup mix (secret ingredient not available at Joe’s) at 6:53pm and at WholeFoods at 6:59pm picking up a second bottle of wine… (just in case).

Yes.  I hit up 3 grocery stores in the span of half an hour.  Yes.  I may have scared some customers.  And yes. I looked like a crazy person with bags from 3 grocery stores.

But it was worth it.

Last night was the first time I hosted any kind of sit down meal in my new apartment (actually having seating is key).

We discussed our book of the month (The Newlyweds).  We enjoyed homemade cranberry juice like grandma used to make, deviled eggs, crostini with prosciutto, homemade spinach dip, avocado salad with heirloom tomatoes and baked salmon.  We discussed the book and planned our next dinner/book club meeting.

It was Awesome.

Flat Washers, Allen Wrenches and Head Bolts

coffee table

On Day 3 of Chicago Awesome I put my manual labor-assembly-tool box skills to work.

Today I knew a large box awaited me upon my arrival home with my new coffee table (my first piece of furniture).

What I didn’t know was that I had to assemble it (what?!!).

First things first.  I had to get the box into my apartment.

After maneuvering all 72 pounds of said “table” to the 23rd floor on cart, I set out piecing this thing together.

Ok this is false.

I set out opening the box (probably the toughest portion of this exercise).  This thing was sealed and ready for mountain lion attacks.  I was like a mad woman on Christmas morning.  Industrial kitchen scissors in hand, I ripped, tore, removed, punched, whined and sliced that giant box into shreds until I could finally remove the pieces of said “table.”

After carefully removing the (heavy) pieces and placing them on all available empty floor space, I surveyed the catastrophic mess and contemplated my options: 1) summon all males in the Chicago area that I know 2) pay people on my floor 3) call the company and yell with no hope of result.

Upon careful reflection I recalled that my mother was always handy with tools.  I remember her always taking pride in being able to hammer and screwdriver with the best of them… I actually remember my grandpa teaching me how to use the hammer at a very young age.

I decided to take a stab at it.

Plus, I’m too impatient.  I wanted my coffee table.  Right.  Now.

Taking out the instructions (written in Chinese) and figuring out what all the weird parts were called, I began to construct these heavy pieces together.  I screwed in legs, added the bottom shelf, and tightened the screws.

The last screw took me about an hour to maneuver (so THAT’s why they said not to tighten anything…) and I ended up taking legs off and putting them back on but 3 hours later I had a coffee table.  An enormous coffee table.

Now I just need that couch to arrive and to pick out 7 more pieces of furniture and I’ll be good to go (oy).

Assembling first piece of furniture for new apartment?


Apartment Hunting: The Despair, The Agony… The Jubilant Elation

layout studio apartment brand new unit

view from rental building where new apartment is

On Day 41, I culminated a 3-day apartment search.

I met a couple brokers to begin (and hopefully) end the search for my new apt.

As to be expected… the process was frustrating and nail-biting fun.

In order to make it harder for myself (I like a good challenge), I gave myself 72 hours to find myself a new apartment (in a brand new city), turn in an application and sign a lease (not to mention explore different neighborhoods, visit with friends and get some work done….)

Piece of cake!

Day 1.

3 hours into this day I was ready to call the search off.  Apartment 1 had walls that didn’t meet the top of the ceiling.  Apartment 2 reeked of cigarettes.  Apartment 3 was built in 1961 and had a kitchen fit for a pre-world war I exhibit.


By the end of the day, I was rethinking any sort of move and wondering which part of “new apartment with nice kitchen” was misunderstood.

Morning of day 2 I tried to give myself a pep talk (key word “tried”) and did my best not to put broker number 2 in a choke-hold and list out my demands.

7 buildings and 20 apartments later, I was seeing spots resembling kitchen and bedroom layouts and trying to remember which unit I liked more than the others.  My state (and the broker’s mood) could be explained by the following behavioral issues:

  • Trying to take naps in “model” apartments
  • Eating a larger fraction of snacks than normal at every building (Lollipops! Goldfish! Cookies!)
  • Staring blankly when asked where I live now
  • Haggling with building managers
  • Asking “inappropriate” questions about building demographics (what is the male to female ratio and how many males between the ages of 25-32?)

I may have had froot loops in my head by the end of the day, but I knew that I had seen some awesome units that might make my new apartment dreams come true.

By 5pm on day 3, I had an apartment.

Yes, I had spoken to everyone I knew on the phone.  Yes, I had a friend look over every single layout and make a pro/con list for me (typical friend duty).

The end result was complete success and excitement for a new apartment and a move to a new city.

(Now just have to make some decorating decisions)