My 3 Least Favorite Bars in Chicago

You know you have it - the one place that's a hard no when someone suggests it on a Saturday night.  Generally, I'm a bar lover.  Dive bars being my favorite, naturally.  But even if it isn't a total dive with no crowd and a crack machine, I can tolerate a lot - heck, my best friend used to drag me clubbing and I survived (RIP Republic, you weren't so bad.)  I'll even willingly go to a lot of other bars that regularly make 'Chicago's worst bars' lists, like John Barleycorn, Carols, and Mothers.  I happen to love Mothers.  But there's a couple that get a resounding no from me, every time (and see, I have photos of myself at each place besides #2, I'm not basing this on nothing):

Deuces and Diamonds.  A lot of places in Wrigleyville can be douchey, because it's where frat boys and overgrown frat boys hang out.  But Deuces is the lead float in the douche bar parade, which is really saying something in this neighborhood.  If you actually choose to go here, I probably hate you and we have nothing in common.  It's the Clark street capital of salmon colored shorts, popped colors, entitlement, and sunglasses at night.  It's one long 'My New Haircut' video.  (Which is hilarious to watch online for 3 minutes, but not in reality for 3 hours.)  The fact that their outdoor area has a chlorinated mini fountain they encourage you to wade in?  I just can't.

(Hopefully you've seen enough photos of me to know when my smile is fake.  Like here.)

Swago Olympic Rings

Have the summer games ignited a competitive fire within you? Take that inspired feeling and channel it towards completing your Olympic Rings Swago board next week!

Swago is a bingo-inspired promotion run by Swagbucks, a website that rewards you with points (called SB) for completing everyday online activities. You can redeem those SB for free gift cards. If you've never used Swagbucks, participating in Swago is a great introduction to the site because you can get extra bonuses for trying out all the activities as you complete your board.
If you didn’t participate in the last round of Swago, here’s what you need to know to get your 300 SB Bonus:
  • Starting Friday, August 19th head to your Swago Board and hit “Join” to pre-register. If you don’t hit “Join” you won’t get credit for completing the action items.
  • Swago will begin on Monday, August 22nd at 12:01am PDT/3:01am EDT, so sit tight and get ready.
  • Each square on your Swago Board will contain an action item to complete. They can be anything from getting a search win, earning SB in Surveys, or earning SB in nCrave.
  • Once you complete the action item in a particular square the square will change color signifying the action item is complete.
  • You have a limited amount of time to mark off as many squares as possible so use your time wisely.
  • Be mindful of the patterns and their corresponding bonuses located on the right of your Swago Board. The patterns will vary in difficulty and bonus value.
  • Once you’ve achieved a pattern the corresponding “Submit” button will light up. You can have multiple patterns available for submission, however, you can only submit ONE pattern so choose wisely.
  • The game ends Monday, August 29th at 12pm PDT/3pm EDT. So make sure to hit “Submit” on the pattern you wish to submit. If you don’t hit “Submit” before the game ends you won’t receive your SB bonus.

Playing Catch Up

Nothing like the end of a vacation to bring the real world crashing down on your head.  Well no, it's not that dramatic.  I'm just still playing catch up on my entire life since getting back from Alaska, and of course the blog takes last place.  Whoops!  Thanks for reading and commenting while I was gone, I promise to respond to comments even though it'll be 2 weeks late; I just didn't feel like responding from my phone the couple of times I got reception.  Can you blame me?

Surprisingly, work was the easiest to catch up on - I hardly had anything piled up waiting and only 42 messages in my e-mail inbox, which was way under what I had mentally estimated.  Home is harder.  Since I just packed a little carry on, I'm already unpacked and all the laundry (mine and John's) is done; that was easy.  Cleaning the actual house is proving to be tougher.  I was gone for a full 10 days and I generally clean on the weekends and do a quick clean up of one area each week day.  That's not to say that John never helps - the outside area is his domain and he did mow the yard.  However, he started his new job last Monday, August 1, so he didn't have time to do anything around the house.  And then over the weekend he got sick (and is still sick.)  Basically means it's like 2 weeks worth of vacuuming up crumbs and dog hair that I need to attend to.

Luckily, Tara is coming into town on Friday.  While most of you are thinking 'ah why have company when you just got back,' let me just explain how (a) nothing pressures you to get the cleaning done like impending guests and (b) it's Market Days and we never miss Market Days.  So the house will be perfectly clean by tomorrow night and then I'll feel much more settled since cleaning is currently 80% of my to do list.  Which means next week, I can get back to blog things, si?

In the meantime, here's some housekeeping things that I need your input on:

(1) I plan on having a full recap of the Alaskan cruise next week.  Generally just going to share some photos and a couple of details and tips but if there's anything specific that you're wondering about, ask me and I'll be sure to address it!

(2) Just for fun (even though I'm definitely already a minimalist) I'm doing the Rachel Aust 60 Day Minimalism Challenge, since it addresses so many more areas than 'get rid of physical stuff.'  Betsy and I are starting on Monday, though I don't plan on having any posts about it (she might, I don't know.)  I'm mainly mentioning it because I'll be posting some photos of my progress to Instagram and Twitter, using the hashtag.  If you want to start it with us let me know.  Always fun to have people in the same boat, cheering each other on.

(3) John's job!  I mentioned in previous posts that I didn't want to share until it was solid, but now he has officially started and I feel like it's okay to talk about - he is training at the fire academy and in 6 months (hence the 6 month pay cut I talked about), he'll be a real life Chicago firefighter.  Yes, like the show Chicago Fire except I've never watched it and never will, just like I won't watch any other fire related TV shows and movies.  So that is the big news!  It's his dream job so we're very excited.  I'm still in the excited phase, I probably won't move on to 'constantly nervous' until he's assigned to a firehouse and actually starts working.  Anything you want to hear about related to this?  How he got the job, what the whole process is, how we handle the scheduling (24 hours 'on', meaning at the firehouse, 48 hours off)?  I'm still learning as we go but if you're interested, I'm happy to share what I've got so far.

And that's it for now.  See you next week!

10 Things That Feel Like Home

As you're reading this, I am on my Alaskan cruise!  Today, we're in Juneau, which I hope means I get some cell service for picture posting.  Regardless, I didn't want to leave you this week without any posts.  Even though a small room on a cruise ship will never really be 'home' for a week, I recognize that there are ways I could make it feel like home.  I couldn't get every one of these into my carry on suitcase, but in general, when I'm away or even when I'm home but feeling sad, these are the top 10 things that are my greatest comforts.

(People and pets make a house a home, that's for sure.  If we were including those, my biggest comforts would be Hawkeye and John.  And my parents.  But short of that.)

1. Snowy Bear.  In case you haven't yet read that post from my archives.  I have never been without Snowy.  As of the writing of this post, I'm not sure if Snowy is coming on the cruise. He has never been to Alaska so I think he has to come, but I am doing just a carry on so he has to fit.  Comfortably.  Never squish the bear.