Educational Weekend

In bullet point form, because I can’t come up with a witty introduction.

– On Friday, Erin hosted a mixology class to celebrate her birthday. Since my alcohol preparation up to this point has followed either the “find bottle opener, open bottle” or “find waitstaff or bartender, order drink” method, I had absolutely zero idea how to put together a cocktail. Fortunately, Revae Schneider of Femme du Coupe more than knows her way around the other side of the bar and taught us all sorts of things about making cocktails. Biggest takeaways: always start your cocktail with the cheapest ingredients, so it’s not the end of the world if you mess up, and you should always shake a drink that involves citrus to insure maximum break-up-age of the citrusy ingredients (<– technical terminology). We made three tasty cocktails and the whole thing honestly gave me a much greater respect for bartenders and cocktails in general. There’s way more that goes into it than I ever realized, and I really enjoyed learning about mixology!

– On Saturday morning, I trekked over to the north side of the West Loop (which is just the weirdest area of Chicago in my opinion, since it’s simultaneously OMGSOTRENDY and somewhat gritty. I don’t get Randolph Street.) to the Centered Chef for a CARA member appreciation event, Namaste and Nosh. As the name suggests, this was both a yoga and food event. I’ve recently gotten more into yoga (relatively speaking…as in, I have done yoga more than once over the past month), but my “practice” has been strictly of the DVD variety. It was nice to have a real teacher for a change!


After yoga, Ryan Hutmacher, aka the Centered Chef, walked us through two soup recipes. Again, this is something I knew nothing about, since my soup creation usually involves a crock pot. He made us a fantastic southwest black bean soup (super hearty with a little kick — perfect for winter!) and a curry…something, something. It had red lentils in it. Haha. But regardless, an awesome event, and it was free! Hooray CARA!

I also had my first Quest bar at Namaste and Nosh, and…I don’t get it. It seems like every blogger in Blogland has been all OMG QUEST BARS 4 LYFE for the better half of the past year, but I was kind of underwhelmed? I even had the cookie dough once since it’s supposed to be so good, but man…not something I intend to spend my money on, that’s for sure. I mean, it wasn’t bad, and I ate the whole thing. I guess it just wasn’t as life-changing as I anticipated.

– I had sushi twice this weekend. Before Friday, I had had sushi exactly two times in my life. So there’s that. Not gonna lie, the whole raw fish thing still skeeves me out, but both the sushi I had at Erin’s on Friday and the sushi I had when I went out for dinner with a friend on Saturday were fabulous. Pushing major boundaries here, people.

– Trader Joe’s on Saturday afternoon is my hell.


I’ve been to TJ’s on Saturday afternoons before, but I’ve never encountered lines like this. You would’ve thought the apocalypse was coming. I normally wait in line for, oh, maybe five minutes at Trader Joe’s, worst case scenario. I waited for 20 minutes in the express lane on Saturday. What?

– I went to two hours worth of dance classes on Saturday afternoon (they were free!). In what might have been the most important lesson of all this weekend, I learned that my calves do not hold up to that kind of intense activity well. They also do not respond well to me following up said intense activity with a “long” (four miles) run the following afternoon and even more so do not respond well to another run 24 hours later. I now have two ropes where my calves used to be. And lots of pain 😦 Boo hiss.

How was your weekend?
But really though. Why was Trader Joe’s out of control on Saturday? I thought Sunday evening was the stupid busy time at TJ’s!

17 thoughts on “Educational Weekend

  1. Ok so a mixology class sounds freaking awesome. I would love to take something like that. it got me thinking I will be looking out for maybe some fun free classes happening the weekend you are here. Because that would be bomb. two – sorry I am not sorry i adore quest bars. granted I can’t buy them all too much because heck they are expensive but when I get my hands on them I am beyond happy. three – TJ’s is amazing, I wish I could shop there more often but I never do. I do find they have great stuff though.

    • Oooh that would be fun! Learning AND hanging out! Win win. But yeah, it was super cool, super informative, and made me feel super smart! (Well, maybe not super smart. But smarter!)

      idk man…I think it was kind of a visual thing. Like I opened the bar and was like, “Wait…I’m supposed to eat this?” Unlike with, say, a KIND bar or something where you look at it and are like, “Oh! Food! Here I see almonds, dried fruit, ginger,” etc.

      I legitimately go 20 minutes out of my way once a week to go to Trader Joe’s. I’d do all my grocery shopping there if I could (but since I have zero interest in hauling a gallon of milk home on a 20 minute journey, I suffer through Jewel Osco when necessary. Life is so hard).

  2. Welcome to the world of calf pain. It sucks. I am pretty sure mines a result of too many dance classes (Zumba) and step. Lots of jumping on my toes+naturally SUPER tight legs+ running does not make for a happy leg. I’ve learned the hard way. Twice. Haha oh well, I hope yours feel better stat! As for quest bars, blech. I had the cinnamon roll flavor which was supposed to taste “zomg just like the real thing” ….if the real thing tastes like play-dough, maybe. I just can’t. I haven’t tried cookie dough but I can’t imagine it would taste like cookie dough. And trader joes. Oh god it’s always a zoo in that store. I fully expect playing bumper carts when I’m there since there’s always far too many people in far too small of a space. Yet they have good stuff, so I keep going back for more. Longest ramble of my life.

    • Not gonna lie, throughout my entire run yesterday I was like, “Sarah will understand.” Haha. I was practically in tears foam rolling post-run yesterday. Hmph. They’re feeling a little better…just still super stiff on the top half. Lame.

      Glad I’m not alone on the Quest bar thing. It did not taste anything like what I’m used to cookie dough tasting, that’s for sure. Not that it was the worst thing I’ve ever had, of course, but nothing I need again.

      Trader Joe’s has my <3. Forever and always. Even with long lines 😛

  3. Ahh joe and i won’t go near tjs unless it’s right after they open or right before they close during the week. Too crazy otherwise, which ticks us off! That mixology class sounds fabulous! Joe has really gotten into cocktails over the last few months, and I’ve enjoyed being his taste tester haha. I love sitting at the bar at our favorite drinks place by our house…it’s prohibition themed and the bar tenders are amazing!! I wish I could do what they do, and it’s so much fun to watch them and learn what goes into drinks.

    • I’ve been to TJ’s at a variety of times (morning, afternoon, evening, right before closing), but I had NEVER seen anything like this, with the exception of one Sunday evening (after which I have sworn of Sunday evening grocery shopping). I also had a lady ALL up in my personal space who kept hitting me with her basket and saying, “Four,” in reference to the number of half gallons of milk she had in her basket. Cool? I don’t know what you want from me, woman, but if it’s to cut me line, it ain’t happenin’.

      That bar sounds so cool! I’d expect a prohibition bar to be sweet and make some awesome drinks 🙂

  4. Quest Bars don’t do it for me either. The artificial sugar gives me a headache and something is just off? I don’t know, I’ll stick with my luna, lara, and kind bars thanks.

    I think everyone skipped grocery shopping the weekend we got all the snow and went this past weekend. I went last night and TJs was a mess… and Monday’s are usually slowish at the one downtown.

    • Kind bars 4 lyfe. It’s really interesting to me that Quest uses artificial sugar. It seems like most products that advertise themselves as a health food won’t touch that business with a 10 foot pole. I don’t like artificial sweeteners at all :/

      You must be right. I’ve been that same Trader Joe’s at the exact same time without trouble before! I guess the polar vortex ate everyone’s food.

  5. Hey Again! Looks like a fun weekend! I took a bar tending course years ago and, also, had no idea how much went into the art of mixology. So intriguing right? Where were these free dance classes? I was doing the Flirty Girl classes, never did end up going to Old Town unfortunately. Also, the TJ’s thing. I avoid weekend grocery shopping hard! It’s scary and stressful. At least now you know it will pretty much always be better than that!

    • Lia! Hello! Good to hear from you 🙂 It’s really surprising how much goes into mixology! I guess it’s like any other art form — the professionals makes it look so easy that the rest of us just assume it IS easy. The free classes this past weekend were at the American Rhythm Center downtown, but I believe it was a one weekend thing 😦 (at least on the free front. They have classes there all the time). Lou Conte will probably have free classes in a couple months, though. Last year at least they had an open house in March and one in October. It gets super crowded and there’s a lot of talent that shows up, but I like their open house a lot. Highly recommend it, as long as you’re good and/or able to handle a solid ego check hahaha.

  6. Look at you expanding your horizons in one weekend! Also, I love Randolph Street. I love how it’s a little bit of everything. Rent was (or maybe still is) so cheap there so that’s where all the up and coming chefs opened restaurants hence the trendy areas. But if you want to see a really weird street just go one block north to Fulton between Halsted and Ogden. I love running down that street because it’s like working-meatpacking-place-art-gallery-trendy-restaurant-more-meatpacking.

  7. Oh the wonder that is a Quest Bar. After seeing them EVERYWHERE in the blog world I obviously had to get my hands on every.single.flavor. to better understand the hype (such a great experiment, right?). I actually don’t tolerate most of the bars because of their artificial sweeteners but the Quest Bar texture in general is what keeps me coming back for more (I love the chewiness). The cookie dough flavor gives me a stomach ache every single time I eat it but the Chocolate Brownie one, which is my favorite flavor, does no harm. Give it a try 🙂

    You haven’t seen crazy grocery lines until you shop during peak hours here in Manhattan. My first and only TJs experience here traumatized me so much that I haven’t been back since. The line weaved around every single aisle in the store and even reached out the door. INSANE! I’ve never seen anything like it :/ I really should start shopping there more though…so much money to be saved!

    Happy Wednesday!!

    • Ha, it’s funny that you mention liking the texture of Quest bars, because I think that’s actually part of what turned me off. Well, that, or the visual of it. I’m used to something like KIND bars or whatever where you look at it and are like, “Yes, here I can identify all the various foods that went into it,” whereas when I looked at the Quest bar I was like, “Wait…this is…food?” Haha. To each her own, I suppose!

      Oh gosh, I can only imagine what Trader Joe’s in Manhattan must be like. That sounds like the worst grocery shopping experience ever! As much as I adore TJs, I don’t think I’d be able to put up with that kind of insanity just for my beloved Trader Joe’s!

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