Saturday, September 24, 2011

People who don't like Fall are silly-Nick

It's an ongoing struggle with Kayla to convince her that Fall is, in fact, a different season than Winter.  The only reason she says she hates Fall is because she hates the cold.  I continually remind her that it is not cold for most of Fall, only when it gets closer to Winter.  She has explained her reasoning as "I hate Fall because it means that it's almost Winter," but that's like saying you hate summer because it means it's almost Fall, which means it's almost Winter.  That's just silly.  It's like when you meet those people who freak out when they turn 23 because it means they're almost 24, which means they're almost 25.  THAT MAKES NO SENSE!

So anyway.  Mom and Dad came up last weekend (hi mom and dad!) and spent some time here in the city with us.  We met up Friday night right after I got off work.  They got to come see the apartment fully put together, and then we headed out to get some dinner and drinks.  We walked a couple blocks over to Lincoln Ave (consult google maps if you want to actually see what this means) which is a hoppin street lined for miles with restaurants, bars, and shops.  We strolled down a ways to this restaurant called "The Horseshoe."  It's owned by the same guys who runs "Easy Rider's" bike shop, the bike shop that was so helpful in the past when my bike was stolen.  We had promised the owner we'd stop in sometime to eat there.  They also are supposed to have live music Friday nights and dad wanted to experience some live music, seeing that we were in the city and all, so we thought it was a perfect choice.  However, we got there and it was completely empty...and I mean COMPLETELY empty.  There was not a single person there except a fairly rude waitress/bartender, including no live music.  We lied and told her we'd be back later when the music had started, and headed up the street to The Bad Apple, a fantastic bar and grill with burgers to die for.  They were much busier, but we enjoyed ourselves having a few drinks.  One drink in particular that Kayla and I both had, which I'd like to point out to Harry Potter fans, was Butter Beer.  That's right, it exists.  They made it in response to the popularity of the Harry Potter books, and it is quite delicious, unless you are like my mom and don't like butterscotch because they use butterscotch liquour to flavor it.

After a good night's sleep we met up again Saturday morning.  We took care of some bank business that I needed to get out of the way and then we headed for the city.  On the way to the trainline we stopped in at "Sweet Sensations Bakery" where Kayla has been doing her stageing.  The cupcakes and cookies were quite tasty.  Then dad got to have both his first L Train ride and subway ride all in one trip.  We spent some time at the Macy's Water Tower Mall and mom bought me a new bag, finally allowing me to decommision the backpack I've been using since I started college (Thanks Mom!).  Then we went for a nice lllooooonnnng stroll through the city.

We walked down a ways to The West Egg, a popular cafe, and got lunch (somebody please explain to me why a cafe on the Northeast side of the city is called the West Egg?).  Then we walked over the Navy Pier, stopping at Centennial Plaza (somewhat by accident because we hit a dead end).  We spent a long time at Navy Pier, walking all the way to the end and enjoying the sights there.  We got coffee and hung out in the indoor garden upstairs.  Then we walked down the boardwalk toward the museum campus and cut across over the Millenium Park.  Mom and Dad got to see the really cool amphitheater there as well as "The Bean" and a few other landmarks.  By that time we were ready for dinner.  Luckily, they all had a great tour guide (me) who had masterfully planned our time in the city so that all of our touring had put us about 1 block from Pizzano's, where we had planned to eat, right around 5pm.  We went there and had some good ol' Chicago deep dish pizza.  If you're every in the city, I highly recommend you try Pizzano's because it is the best I've had yet.

After dinner we strolled through the Loop over to Willis Tower (formally known as the Sears Tower) and gazed up at its tallness.  Then we headed home, had some tea, and called it a night.

Finally, Sunday morning we got breakfast at this delicious breakfast cafe, Marmalade, that's like 2 blocks down the street from our apartment.  I think overall mom and dad had a good time.  I know that I did =).

Friday, September 23, 2011

Newness -Kayla

I've been so busy the last week, many of you may not know that I have a new job.  Magnolia kind of fell through due to my need of money and their inability to settle on an orientation date.  I now have a job at Dolce Casa Cafe, which is a mere 6 blocks down Damen Ave. from our apartment; it takes me 15 minutes to walk there.  I had interviewed for this job the same week in interviewed for the other two, but gave up when I hadn't heard back 3 weeks later.  Then, last Thursday, I got a call offering the job.  It's pretty much the best ever, particularly for my situation.  First off (and most importantly), I get to bake.  Not full time, but intermittently and it will hopefully get more frequent.  Ross (my boss) ultimately hopes that I can handle all the baking they do there (which isn't a ton), plus come up with some new things for the cafe.  Right now, I'm focused on just leaning the basics there.  For a cafe, they sell a large variety of food and I have to be able to make everything on the menu.  Also, I am getting trained to be a legit barista, which is something I've always wanted to do (for some unknown reason).  I get to go to Metropolis Coffee next Friday for training, but I've already gotten descent at foaming milk (which is a lot harder than it looks, seriously).  On top of that, my boss is fantastic.  He's extremely patient with me (and my lack of experience), very supportive, and full of knowledge.  He went to Le Cordon Bleu in England, so he knows what type of an education I'm getting.  He has so far shaken off all of my mistakes, which happen semi-often.  AND the money is fantastic, considering it is an entry level cafe job: $9 plus tips.  I walked away with $40 today for a little over 9 hours of work.  I'll take $13 an hour any time.  This is a GREAT starting position for some extra baking training and some hands on experience.

Also, the stage is going very well.  Chef Nathan is also very patient and extremely kind.  What is with my luck lately?  I'm getting these great opportunities with fantastically understanding people.  After inquiring about my job at Dolce Casa, she mentioned again the opportunity of future employment with her.  She even said that working around my current work schedule would be possible.  How awesome is that?!  I think that this is a few months away, but seriously, when did a horseshoe fall on my head while I was walking through a garden of four leaf clovers?

Anywho, life is great and we are really enjoying it here in the city.  Unlike Nick, I hate the fall, so come winter, we'll see if I still love it here :P

Thursday, September 8, 2011

It's the most wonderful time of the year-Nick

So anybody that knows me well, if anything, knows this one thing about me-I freaking love Fall.  With that said, please note that for the past few days it has been consistently below 70 degrees.  What does all this add up to?  IT'S FALL!!! WHOOOO!!!

The temperature has arrived and soon you'll actually be able to see it.  The trees will be multi-colored, people will be wearing long sleeves...oh how I've missed this season.

This weekend we got to enjoy this beautiful weather for three whole days.  We went downtown to buy me some new slacks.  I was operating ok with only two pairs, but unfortunately managed to tear a large hole in one.  Anyway, we could have made it a quick trip, but took the time to walk around downtown and ended up spending a few hours down there.  Not only did we get me some new pants, but we also got some fantastic cupcakes from Sprinkles Bakery.  We also witnessed this:

Yes, that's right, that is in fact a living Michael Jackson statue.  As you can imagine, he was fun to watch.

The rest of the weekend was pretty laid back and, being Labor Day weekend and all, we thought it would be fun to grill out.  So, we packed up my grooler (grill/cooler), some fresh cheddarwurst, and headed to the park.  We had a bit of a time finding a park where we were able to grill, and eventually settled into one where you're not supposed to (what do you expect after walking around for about 2-3 miles carrying a small grill, charcoal, and food.

Here are some pictures from our little cook-out.

Success -Kayla

I.  Will.  write.  like.  this.  to.  avoid.  spelling.  errors.  not really, but as Nick so kindly pointed out about my last post, there were a lot of typing errors; i hereby solemnly swear to try harder.  as the title of my post indicates, i have run into a few strokes of luck as of late.  i was slightly distraught by the fact that specialty's cafe and bakery never called me back about the prep job (even though I got the Magnolia position) because i had such a fantastic interview.  the chef de cuisine told me several times during the interview that he liked me and even seemed like he wanted to hire me on the spot.  alas, when I did not get a call by friday at 4 pm (the time at which he indicated all hope would be lost), i just had to move on with my wounded pride.  Lo and behold, he called me yesterday to offer me a part time position.  i was very excited about this as i thought "maybe he'll offer me a baking position since he knows that's what i'm interested in!"  It turned out to only be a sandwich position and i had to turn it down.  i felt so bad since i'm pretty sure the chef created the position just for me to fill.  he said that they had to go with someone more experienced in the prep position i interviewed for, but he wanted to offer me this position so that i could get my foot in the door.  he is a very nice man and i'm sure a pleasure to work with in the kitchen; he exuded enthusiasm from every surface of his body and he sounded truly happy to hear from me.  In addition to this boost to my self-confidence, it earned me a very good contact; we all know that it's not what you know, but who you know.  after Informing him that i will be looking for an externship (which is the same as an internship, but the food biz feels it necessary to chance the name up) in about 8 months, I asked if perhaps i could call him in about 7 months to talk about a possible baking position. he said that it could be a definite possibility, so kudos to me!  I really need to get on with trying to find an externship location and this is a great start.  In 8 months, i don't want to find myself unable to find a externship, and, in turn, postponing my graduation.

In other news, I've also secured a stage (said STAHge), which is basically working for free, but it will gain me some excellent contacts and greatly-needed experience.  I go in to Sweet Sensations Bakery tomorrow at 9 am to report for my very first experience working in a professional bakery.  I'll be doing all the grunt work, i'm sure, but my ultimate goal, again, is to network for my externship.  a lot of people will stage in order to find a job.  i, however, needed money asap and had to find a job before i could work somewhere for free.  this may actually work to my advantage, though, as i can go to bakeries, offer to work for free, and they are not pressured into feeling like they must give me a job if i do well.  honestly, all i want to do is gain some experience.  if they do want me to come back, my response will be, "well, I will be looking for an extern ship in x months.  maybe we can talk then?"  this is my goal.  I want choices of where i will externship.  i don't want to be stuck somewhere i don't like and i certainly don't want to find myself without any options at all.  my other goal is to get ahead of my class mates.  the kitchen is dog-eat-dog and while we are all pleasant to each other, i can't help but look around the room and think "this is my competition..."  Sad, but true.  i need to get all the experience i can so that when it comes time to find a big-girl job, i am miles ahead of everyone else.

orientation at magnolia starts this coming wednesday at 9 am and i am sooooo excited!  I cannot wait to see with whom i will be working and what the place looks like.  magnolia might also turn out to be an externship opportunity, which would be ah-mazing, but i can't put all my eggs in that basket.  like i said, i want choices, not just one option.  also, the first Bears game is this sunday and i will be starting my super-part-time job at soldier field as a prep cook.  it's not glamorous, but the dakota north company is a good name to have on a resume.  oh, yeah, and it pays a little too.  That always helps.  I'm sure it will be a fun experience.

I am so happy that things are falling into place and that, after this weeks, i will actually have things to do!  having nothing to do, although nice for a while, quickly turned into boredom, a feeling of uselessness, and eventually slight depression.  now i am doing something with my life and have evidence that i did actually move to chicago for a reason and no, i am not starving or living in the ghetto.  it just further strengthens my belief in the law of equivalent exchange: "mankind cannot gain anything without first giving something in return".  I am giving it all i've got and so far, it seems to be paying off.

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Epic Fail -Kayla

It's only an epic fail because I meant to do a post a long time ago.  Other things in my life, on the other hand, are quite the opposite of fail.  As I sit here in The Perfect Cup (a coffee house just two blocks from our apartment), I'm thinking about how much I appreciate my life.  The first thing on my mind: I've secured a job.  And it's a good one at that.  I am now an employee at Magnolia Bakery in downtown Chicago.  It's on State street, that's just how downtown it is.  I am REALLY excited about that.  What's better about it?  It is also on the brown line (the train we live two blocks from) and only a couple of stops from my school.  This means I'll be able to maximize the number of hours I work because I won't have to waste time commuting to school.  I am by no means a baker at this location, but a front counter worker.  However, during my interview, Guy (the GM) told me that one of their current head bakers started at the front counter.  He also told me that I could possible move up once I get some more schooling under my belt.  That's no guarantee, but it's better than nothing.  At least I have my foot in the door at a reputable bakery and it's a job to pay me money until I get more schooling under my belt for a more baking-oriented job.  The place isn't even open yet; Chicago is a new location.  It's originally based in New York.  It's supposed to open in 4 weeks and Karen (the woman who called me) told me that they hope to have orientation next week.  Woo!  I can't wait to work here.  It's absolutely adorable and famed for it's start of the cupcake craze.  They ice all cupcakes by hand in their own signature way, which I will learn (see their signature swirl here:

Now that we can be more certain about our financial situation, I am much more relaxed and I can finally fully enjoy the perks of living here.  I've so far always enjoyed living here, but there was always that little voice in my mind saying "but you are still unemployed".  That little voice was always there to ruin my happy moments, but no longer.  Ha, little voice!  Haha!  I can't stress enough now excited I am to get started.  It really seems like a great environment and and great place to work for.  It's extremely well known in the baking world (and in the culinary world) and I'm sure that I'm the envy of quite a few people in my class.  Here's proof of just how popular this place is:

Other things that are going well: I have a fiance who loves me, a great little apartment in the perfect location, a great school, and now the means to actually start planing our wedding.  The only thing missing is my family and friends, who I miss more than anything.  We've still been enjoying the city life, walking down the street for drinks, coffee, ice cream, or anything else that strikes our fancy.  We have about 10 places on our list to go eat, but our financial situation has been keeping up from trying too many.  Thankfully, that will soon be remedied!

School is going well.  There haven't been any previous posts about it because it has actually been pretty boring.  As beginners, we have to go through and learn all the basics (including sanitation which is my least favorite part).  It's all really simple so far.  Mostly, my practical classes have included knife cuts, but I've gotten to make simple things like French vinaigrette and mayonnaise.  I've learned about mother sauces and stocks.  I can't believe that after tomorrow, I will be halfway done with my first classes.  Six week classes are short!  I'm actually sad that I don't have class on Monday because I'll be missing a practical day.  Oh, well.  I supposed getting to spend the day with Nick will make up for it  :P