Sunday, January 31, 2010

Zumba!!!

My mom won a free Zumba session, so Melissa, Rachel, Megan, Lynne, and I headed up to the Lake for the afternoon. We listened to the new Needtobreathe album on the way up...and when I say "listened" I mean "screamed at the top of our lungs and danced our hearts out" - ah-mazing! Can't wait to see them at House of Blues in March!
It was a great group - we had a blast!
The instructor was great and did a mix of all kinds of styles of dance - salsa, merengue, samba, cumbia, reggaton, and belly dancing.
Then it was back to the house for a delicious dinner and not one, but two birthday cakes for Lynne - carrot cake and black bottom pie - yum!
Could not have been a better end to a fabulous weekend!

The Celebration Continues!

Lynne does birthdays right, Friday night a "sophisticated" night out with the ladies....Saturday a huge party at English.
Lynne's brother Dan, whose birthday was the 26th, was in town for the co-birthday party!
Meredith and I modeling our new haircuts...
Is she really this sophisticated in her "old" age???
Peter, Rachel, and I...all back in Chicago after our travel adventures earlier in the month...
On Friday, Crystal, Kelli, Meredith, and I discovered we all had haircuts scheduled for Saturday, so here is the before...
...and the after....
I highly recommend English as a party venue - voted best bar in River North! As for me, I'll stick to the warm weather rooftops for my birthday...but for a winter birthday, English is it :-)

Saturday, January 30, 2010

Ladies Night on Rush

Friday was a BIG day - Lynne's birthday! Chi Chi and Katie organized a ladies night for all of us to get together for a great dinner and to celebrate of dear friend. The evening started at Rosebud on Rush.
Meredith was truly in the spirit - cheers-ing with not one, but two glasses ;-)
The food was excellent...my linguine di marre was no exception....Lynne was surprised with a chocolate mousse and flaming sambuca - thankfully she was nice enough to share!
From there, we were off to Jbar for drinks and dancing!
Yep...I'm pretty sure the birthday girl had a great night :-)
Happy Birthday from all of us Lynne - can't wait to see what is in store for the coming year!!!

Wine, Soap, and High Fashion

Sounds like a weird mix right? I would agree with you, except for the fact that Tara's event on Thursday night was absolutely fantastic and everything seemed to meld together fantastically.

Tara opened her home and hosted a little soirée where she had representatives from The Enterprising Kitchen and from a new fashion boutique. Yes, I did splurge and got a coat from the boutique....they are making a few alterations, but I will hopefully be wearing it often and thus you'll be seeing it sometime soon in blog-dom.
The Enterprising Kitchen (TEK), a nonprofit social enterprise, provides workforce development and support services to women who are working toward self-sufficiency and economic independence. Within the context of a business where we manufacture natural soaps and spa products, under the brand nameChoices from The Enterprising Kitchen, women receive intensive workforce preparation and skills development including: paid employment, work and life skills training, individualized career planning, high school equivalency preparation, technology training, financial planning and a variety of other support services.

I was incredibly inspired by a quote in their brochure and talked to the representatives about getting involved by volunteering to host seminars on resume building, interviewing and networking - I can't wait to start!!

"Somewhere along our journey we stumbled upon a roadblock. We are not ashamed of our misstep nor are we looking for an excuse. We are in search of guidance, support, knowledge, and training that will enable us to move forward. We are the women of The Enterprising Kitchen. We are ready to take on new projects with imagination and initiative. We are becoming the best we can be."

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Paradise - Taboga Island, Panama

For my weekend in Panama City, I decided to escape the city and head to the island of Taboga, which is 12miles off the coast of Panama City. It was amazingly beautiful and incredibly relaxing!
I was greeted by my buddy Juan Ramone the juice shop guy when I walked off the boat. Who knew that a smoothie made from melon and ice could be that delicious...I had four in my short stay that was barely over one day.
The town of San Pedro was very small and quaint and I loved taking walks and hikes all over to explore.
I stayed at the Cerrito Tropical - a quaint B&B owned by an Canadian couple.
The Cerrito had an amazing hammock where I took a fabulous nap!
Nothing beats fresh seafood from the island...and this place was no exception - 4 tables total, overlooking the ocean, amazing!
There were great trails to hike all over the island, through the wildlife preserve.
Taboga is called the island of flowers...for obvious reasons!
One of the many beaches...
I had checked out the the Cerrito earlier in the day, but they let me store my bag and use their garden shower before my ferry departed.
Can't beat that as an ending to a wonderful trip!

Panama Canal

On Friday afternoon, Gina took Linda and I to the Panama Canal. I absolutely loved it, could have stayed all day - it was fascinating. There are 3 sets of locks, we went to the Miraflores Locks, just minutes from Panama City.
There are two sets of locks at Miraflores. Half the day the traffic flows Atlantic to Pacific, half the day Pacific to Atlantic, and at night one lane is open for each. This Maersk ship had just entered the last lock when we arrived.
See how above the blue part of the ship was visible and below it is not....that is all done through massive amounts of water being pumped in and out of the locks.
The ships receive a pull from a tug boat to get into the locks, and from there they are hooked up to mini-trains that guide them through (as you'll see with the cruise ship pictures below).
Over looking the locks.
Coconut water....so much better than regular boring water :-)
We were told that this car carrier only had 2ft on each side to pass through the locks. There are several ships that actually scrap the sides going through.
Again, note the before and after as the car carrier goes through the locks. The ships are lowered 27ft at Miraflores.
I took some video of the locks opening and a small cruise ship going through. Yes, this is a small one - ships are taxed based on cargo and this one was $156,000. The largest cruise ship cost $375,000 - yikes!
video
video
The locks also has a great museum with a video about the history of the Canal, and several floors of exhibits explaining the Canal, from mechanical to biological. As I said, I absolutely loved it and will definitely go back when I return in March!!!