Thursday, October 8, 2015

Three Things Thursday

1. To my own amazement, I won a contest from Artizone for $150 in store credit. In addition to hand-delivering my gift cards, last night a friendly delivery guy came by with a giant bag of fresh produce to boot. I got one pound of strawberries, pears, apples, kiwis, broccoli and golden beets. Not sure what to do with the beets, but I'm super impressed by the hospitality.

2. Katie, one of the runners that I met when I ran my marathon PR in Vermont with #CabotFit, just launched an amazing cookbook featuring all things maple syrup. Maple is beautiful and features both sweet and savory iterations highlighting all the glories that is maple. I'm so impressed and can't wait to get cooking. I want to be Katie when I grow up.

3. It's true - Poley is a senior citizen. He had his first senior wellness check up Monday and passed, with clean teeth, strong lungs and happy joints. Basically, he's a rock star dog that will live to chase another squirrel for at least another decade, I hope.

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

Win it Wednesday: $50 at Vin Chicago

Remember my super awesome experience at Vin Chicago this weekend? It seemed selfish to keep this experience to myself, so I'm sharing it with one lucky reader who will net a $50 gift card to check out any location themselves. I'd highly recommend signing up for Vin Chicago's newsletter so you can preview what you'll see in stores, and definitely go on a Saturday to enjoy the tastings. Also, if you're not sure what to buy or what pairs well, just ask the staff. They'll be happy to recommend a wine for tacos or scallops or spaghetti or chocolate. And if you're buying for a party or friend, the tasting notes they'll send you via e-mail will ensure you can pass along the cool stories you hear in the store with expert care.

Ready to win(e)? This giveaway is limited to readers living within Illinois, which is where Vin Chicago can deliver. The gift card is valid online, or at any of their retail locations. Enter below and Rafflecopter will randomly select a winner on Oct. 15.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Tuesday, October 6, 2015

A Sip with a Story at Vin Chicago

I had a super exciting weekend! It started with a wine tasting at Vin Chicago in Naperville. It's such a cool place and concept that I spent more than two hours there, and could have stayed longer. What I learned is that Vin Chicago makes it easy to be the life of a party by bringing a cool wine with an interesting story. Instead of picking up some random $15 bottle of wine at Costco while also securing a pallet of peanut butter, wipes and Tide, Vin Chicago's staff will get you in and out with a story and a unique bottle that's competitively priced.

Every single person who works there has a passion for wine. What's more, Vin Chicago is at its core a value-based retailer. The staff collects interesting wines with exceptional tasting notes, but only if the price point rings true. The wine buyer said that there are some great wines they taste, but if the price point isn't compelling, they don't make it onto the shelves at Vin Chicago. And they're not interested in the stuff you can get at Target. They want new, novel, exciting and unique.

The story of Vin itself is pretty interesting. It was the first seller to get a license after prohibition, and started as Wine Discount Center in quite an interesting area of Chicago. Even now, the Elston store is the only retailer in an industrial area featuring tanners and welding shops. The initial concept was the retailer would buy incredible wines and sell them very cheaply, skipping over the banner discount brands to something that's worth talking about.

In addition to advice, Vin Chicago has samples. Every Saturday each location offers quite an expansive array of sampling, which changes seasonally and based upon what the staff is geeked out about. But if you can't make it into the store, they've got an option for you - a newsletter shares the expansive and rotating menu of wines that are coming in or particularly special that week.

The final step that ensured Vin Chicago secured a very special place in my heart is that they'll e-mail you all the notes for the wines you purchase, which means you can actually recall all the stories and buzzwords that will make you sound smarter at parties. I also found their website to be useful for party planning, especially the section with 90 point wines for less than $10. The holidays are right around the corner, and I like having a few bottles of wine on hand for gatherings or hostess gifts that won't break the bank but I know are solid choices.

Want to visit and learn for yourself? Stay tuned, I MIGHT be able to help you out with that ...

Friday, October 2, 2015

What I'm Reading (and Watching) Now

I've fallen in love with my treadmill again, mostly because it's damn easy to hammer out a few miles before work or during lunch or after dinner when it's just too dark or crappy outside. This also means I'm logging more time with my SmartTV. I don't have cable, and haven't for more than a year. I do have AmazonPrime, NetFlix and HBOGo, as well as a digital antenna on my main television.

The Martian - I just finished listening to this book on tape via Audible and I can't wait to see the movie this weekend at the drive in. My sister said it was the best book she's read this year and quite possibly her favorite, which I must agree with. A great tale with multiple narrators and so much nerdy I can barely contain myself.

Ask a Manager - Rachael turned me onto this blog and it is endlessly amusing. It's hilarious to think there are so many bad employees and employers out there, and how truly atrocious working can be. My recent favorite is an employee who was asked to change his name. Wut?

SVU - My favorite of the Law and Order iterations, SVU is back on Netflix and I just can't get enough. I love that Mariska Hargitay has taken a more central role in recent seasons. Fun fact: In college, we would stop working on Tuesday nights at the school newspaper to watch the new episodes. It was quiet time in the office.

Extant - Ah, season two. I'm conflicted. The sophomore effort took the show in a different direction, and leaves the third season veering even further away. I'm starting to feel about this the way I felt about Fringe; awesome first few episodes, then things got weird(er).

Creepy Catalog - A subforum of Thought Catalog, I really enjoy the fiction writing and nuances. It's free, it's creative and it's a bit inspiring during a dull part of my day.

Thursday, October 1, 2015

Three Things Thursday

1. Welcome to my favorite month! It's October, which has so many highlights for me - my birthday, seven years in my house, Halloween, the return of cool-weather running and apple/pumpkin season. Not to mention the triumphant return of boots, scarves, tights and long sweaters. This is my time.

2. Another exciting October development - I'm getting a new deck! The whole development is getting composite decking and 50-year guaranteed trim. They also came around and painted the trim everywhere, so I guess the house is getting a bit of a facelift. My Halloween decor is going to look superb against the updates.

3. It took Napoleon a month, but he finally de-squeaked one of those indestructible puppy toys. It's nice to know that at age 7, he's still destroying things with the gusto and efficiency of a puppy. May that always be the case.

Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Win it Wednesday: No Problem Pint Glass from Caloric Cuvee

After the success of my recent stainless steel growler giveaway, I've kept in touch with Caloric Cuvee about future giveaways. They've got a great selection of wine, pint and beer stein glasses with calorie counts or funny sayings. If you're watching calories, the wine glass is great. It tells you exactly how much you can have for your caloric/point allowances, which I appreciated when I was on Weight Watchers.

Anyhow, now's your chance to grab another item from their impressive catalog of offerings. I've been keeping this stein in the freezer and like the weight of it - it keeps my drinks cold and doesn't feel fragile, unlike some of the other glassware  I own. If you'd like to snag yourself one, just enter below. RaffleCopter will pick a random winner on Oct. 8. Happy entering!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Monday, September 28, 2015

No Spice Girls Sightings

For the past week, I've been in Texas for #SpiceWorldAustin. It was even a trending topic on Twitter. I was hoping for this:

But I got this:

I was at a convention for IT pros. That's a dance battle between a dinosaur and Darth Vader. Don't act like you aren't jealous.

It's cool, though. I got to see my parents and their pool:

Eat some delicious barbecue and pie

Enjoy beverages at Jester King

Make new friends

Run in a 5K

And generally just love loving my job.

And how was your week?