Action Pod!

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Last night my friends Harsh and Monika assembled an action pod in their living room. Many of us have been wondering what we can do to volunteer, participate and become more informed (and boost optimism). Last night we sat around together for our first monthly meeting and brainstormed a few steps to bring about change and peace. If there's anything positive to glean from our recent election, it's that there might be born a movement that's more inclusive, more intersectional, more powerful, and louder than ever before.

Moving forward we want to know what's at stake, donate, volunteer, make calls, get out of our own bubble. I've spent much of the past few months wrestling with the nagging feeling that I haven't done enough to effect the changes that I want to see in the world, and that I won't be able to do enough to stop our president from doing damage to the folks who are already hurting the most. I'm torn between wanting to get active and feeling like things are out of my hands. No surprise, I hate feeling like things are out of my hands.

Brian and I made donations to the ACLU and NIAC earlier this month (here's a list of pro-women, pro-immigrant, pro-earth, anti-bigotry organizations that need support, if you're interested), and I plan to start volunteering here in coming weeks. In the spirit of action, my resolution for the rest of the year is to better advocate for myself and others (this is a great resource).

I'd love to hear your suggestions for getting more involved and hear what you're doing. I thought the action pod was a great way to get a community started, one that will hold each other accountable, inspired and informed.

P.S. These coloring pages!
P.P.S. The Women's March on Washington's mission is one I think resonates across issues and efforts:

“We stand together in solidarity with our partners and children for the protection of our rights, our safety, our health, and our families— recognizing that our vibrant and diverse communities are the strength of our country.”

San Diego, California!

Friday, February 10, 2017

We spent last weekend in San Diego with some dear friends, and, as always when we return from a trip to California, I'm left asking myself why we don't live there. What a gorgeous place! There's beauty and sunshine in every corner (it's currently freezing in Chicago)! Although I think I'm a city girl through and through, I also love the chill Cali vibes. Who knows where we'll be in years to come, but it's no secret in our house that I will not be upset if we happen to end up in California :)

The first thing we did when we landed on Thursday night was grab burgers and animal fries at In-N-Out (just another reason to move to Cali, B!), soooo delicious. I think we might have ended up going to In-N-Out more times than days we were in San Diego. That's how you know you have good friends.

On Friday morning we woke up bright and early, grabbed some acai bowls and sandwiches and headed to hike El Cajon Mountain. I had suggested the hike a few weeks before we left, but after researching it a bit I told Brian I didn't think we were prepared for it (everything on every site said it's for experienced hikers only, the hardest hike in San Diego). He insisted we at least try, that we could always turn back.

Just getting from the parking lot to the trail head was exhausting, and it was only much, much more difficult from there. It ended up taking us nearly eight hours to hike the full thing, and it was by far the most challenging thing my body has ever done. The photos don't do it justice because I only had the camera out during the few times when I wasn't using both my hands and feet to not tumble. Poor Brian held my hand the entire way back, when I really didn't know how I could possibly make it down the steep parts. Only to conquer them and see more steep parts ahead.

On New Year's Day Brian and our friend Harsh set a resolution to do 50 pushups a day, and they've held each other accountable every day since (they call each other accountabili-buddies :) They've got a spreadsheet going and take it so seriously (Brian will jump out of bed, no matter the time, if he remembers he didn't finish some).

THANK GOODNESS WE HAD SANDWICHES. We scarfed them down the second we reached the summit.

My best girls <3

As difficult as the hike was, we laughed the entire time. We played games, shared stories and motivated each other to keep going.

More pushups...

That night we rewarded ourselves with dinner at CUCINA Urbana, which had the best cocktails and homemade tagliatelle.

The apartment we rented had amazing views, a pool table instead of a kitchen table and a big outdoor hot tub. On our last night we ordered takeout Thai food, stayed in and chatted in the hot tub for hours.

We spent Saturday in Temecula, an hour drive from San Diego, which is full of vineyards. There was a long dirt road, full of big and little wineries, and the sun was shining all day. Peltzer was my favorite stop (cozy couches and bread pairings with every wine tasting!).

We started Sunday morning with breakfast by the water in La Jolla before heading to Coronado and a few beaches to get as much sand between our toes as possible before going home.

We ended our trip with popsicles from Viva Pops (a big reason I want to go back!). Felt like we had a sweet taste of summertime for a few days :)

Thank you, San Diego, for a wonderful long weekend! And friends for being the best adventure buddies. xoxo


Tuesday, February 7, 2017

It's no secret around here that I enjoy a glass (or two or...) of wine. I'm part of a wine club with a group of girlfriends, and it's a Friday night I look forward to all month. Also, my blues are always quickly cured with a bottle of red and Brian's famous stromboli or a chilled white at our favorite BYOB Thai spot. And then there's wine in the summertime! Just the image of chilled rose and a lobster roll on a patio is making me giddy right now. One of the things I like most about it (wine, that is) is that it's perfect for celebrating most any occasion. Whether it's a birthday, anniversary or just another episode of This Is Us, uncorking a bottle is always a delight. So, if you're looking for a Valentine's Day gift for just about anyone (over 21, that is), Winc is a great place to go. 

Through Winc, you get a variety of wines customized to your palate. You take a simple six-question survey so the Winc wine masters can get a sense of your taste, then you receive recommendations of four bottles for your first box. From there, you can choose to continue receiving four bottles a month or can skip any month without being charged.

A few weeks ago we tested out the service and indulged in a cozy tasting at home with homemade pizza (I love this shaved asparagus pizza sooooo much). Wine shops, and even grocery stores, can be overwhelming. So many bottles, so many pretty labels, but too many decisions. It was nice to get a big case of goodies just plopped onto our doorstep. 

I took the quiz on our behalf and every bottle we've tried has been spot on to my taste (we ordered the first four that were recommended), but I like that you can make your own selections from the site's ever-changing assortment should you wish.

To help you learn more about your wines, each shipment includes a description of each wine, what makes it special, what makes it taste the way it does, serving instructions, and a chef-created recipe to pair perfectly with the wine.

Another perk is that Winc works directly with wine makers. There are no middlemen, which means you get better wine for less. I've been loyal to cheap (very, very cheap) wines for years now, but as my palate grows but budget doesn't, I've been purchasing mediocre, slightly more expensive, not all that better tasting, bottles. The wines we received from Winc were decently priced (all are discounted) and some of our new favorites (the Wonderful white blend rocks). 

Another bonus is that Winc supports growers and winemakers that practice sustainable farming and wine making. Whenever possible they opt for vegan, sustainably farmed organically grown grapes and minimal intervention in production. 

If you're stumped for V-Day next week, giving the gift of a subscription is great because it truly is a gift that keeps on giving (Brian got this subscription service as a Christmas gift, and we're both so excited to see what'll be in the mail each month). Every month your giftee gets a reminder that you care, and with Winc, they're receiving something they can enjoy with others.

P.S. Use this link to get $22 off your first order! Enter code "makethemost" at checkout (case sensitive!).

(This post was sponsored by Winc. Thank you for supporting the brands that support Make the Most.)

Lily Visits!

Wednesday, January 25, 2017

As someone who anxiously dreads winter's arrival the second the air feels crisp in the fall, I can't believe how fast time is going by lately. I took on a big freelance project in December and have been dedicating most of my free time to filling our new place (as of last week, we have a bed!), so things like the blog (or finishing this book, which I think is the funniest) have fallen by the wayside.

The holidays seem forever go, and I realized last night that I never posted photos from when my friend Lily visited for New Year's Eve. She ended up getting super sick and losing her voice during her stay, so we spent most of our time on the couch, eating Chinese takeout and watching Westworld, which, though I felt bad for her, was so cozy and relaxing. A few of Brian's friends also flew in for a couple of days, so it felt like a mini reunion all around.

Before we got cooped up, we were able to explore a bit, eating our way through neighborhoods as usual. Highlights this trip included Mindy's Hot Chocolate, Pequod's Pizza (THE BEST) and The Hampton Social (Brian ordered the best cocktail). I also introduced Lily to Magnolia Bakery's banana pudding (one of my favorite desserts!), which I've craved every day since.

I always lick every bit of my plate clean at Mindy's and don't save room for hot chocolate. But since we had a visitor in town, there were no excuses :) Lily and I split the old-fashioned (milk chocolate, dark chocolate, caramel, chocolate bits and whipped ganache), and it was to die for.

After weeks of frigid weather in Chicago, we finally caught a break, so we spent an entire day outside, walking around downtown and going down slides at Maggie Daley Park.

Seriously the best pizza. Even if you have to wait hours and hours for it.

We've finally figured out how to work our fireplace, and I'm so, so, glad. Sitting by it with a glass of wine has turned into my favorite weekend activity. Did I ever mention our struggles? We tried everything, and our dads each spent some time on it, too. We looped in all the neighbors, YouTube videos, manuals we found in our storage space in the basement. Nothing was working! We finally caved and got in touch with the previous owners, who guided us through it :)

Lily, Brian, our friends Monika and Harsh, and I have a new tradition of going out for ramen on New Year's Day. This year's restaurant was a dud (last year's really hit the spot), it was still so fun overcoming our hangovers in solidarity. We also went on a cinnamon bun hunt, which landed in the duddiest dud of a pastry.


And now I'm looking at my sad desk lunch wishing it was a lobster roll. Ugh!

As always ... move here, Lily :)