Adventures of a Midwest Transplant

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So About This Bucket List

I mentioned this bucket list about a year ago. My friends and I had grand plans to get all this cool stuff done before our 30th birthdays. Well, I’m happy to report I got most of it done. I did a post about the first things I did, but now I’m just going to do a round-up of everything.

That’s what happens when you miss 100+ days of blogging. You gotta summarize.

Just to remind you, my best friend and I made a list of different categories. Each of us then had to choose something within that category and attempt to complete it by our 30th birthdays (give or take as everyone didn’t have a full year to make it happen).

Let’s just say that out of the 10 or so people who liked the idea, not many people actually worked on crossing items off their list.

But a few of us really tried. My best friend did the most, she even completed her task of skydviving! Her mom, who is amazing, scheduled it and went with her.

This is what I came up with when we first settled on the idea. The left column holds the categories, and the right column are my chosen activities. Each thing I chose had to be approved by someone else doing the bucket list.

“All the kids are doing it” Watch one whole season of Bad Girls Club
Culinary Exploration Find soy/tofu dish to love
Dating Five unique dates with husband
Free Spirit Table-top dance at bar
Friendships Make 2 new NYC friendships
Hobby/Lessons Horseback riding lessons
Physical Appearance Tattoo
Thrill-Seeking Activity Bungee Jumping
Unconventional Travel Backpacking train ride to ME B&B
Wildcard

I did make some changes over the year. Since I didn’t choose a wildcard, I decided to use my nose piercing to count as that one. It felt quite wild and spontaneous when I did it, plus it was something I ordinarily wouldn’t have done. I decided on a whim to get it done while a friend was visiting from out of town.

I also changed the hobby. I changed from horseback riding lessons to Wine School. Following along with the New York Times’s Eric Asimov and learning a lot about an existing passion (wine), made sense for a good replacement because I simply didn’t have the funds or time to pursue horseback riding right now.

That being said, here’s how I did on the updated categories:

Category Activity Completion
“All the kids are doing it” Watch one whole season of Bad Girls Club Binge watched all of Season 11. The girls were in Miami. I didn’t enjoy it. At least I confirmed for myself that I really don’t like that type of reality show. ANTM and DWTS, plus a smidge of Chopped and Iron Chef is all I need.
Culinary Exploration Find soy/tofu dish to love Tofu just wasn’t gonna happen. I really tried. But a great suggestion from an online friend led me to chocolate soy milk. I genuinely enjoyed it and it’s currently the only store bought chocolate milk I like to drink.
Dating Five unique dates with husband I had so many rules for this one, I was setup for failure! The date couldn’t include one of Chris’s gigs, couldn’t be a group date, and couldn’t happen at home. We only did one date that was outside of those three categories. Life gets busy and all that… Major Fail.
Free Spirit Table-top dance at bar This one I did. When some friends came to town to celebrate a med school graduation, I went out with them. We danced all night, and some of my dancing included a table top at a bar. Good times.
Friendships Make 2 new NYC friendships Done and done. I’ve made more than 2 friends. I think if I’m being honest, there are 3 total friendships I made that I would continue to pursue even if I (or they) moved away from NYC tomorrow. I had such a hard time making friends when I first moved here, so I’m glad this one worked out.
Hobby/Lessons Wine School I’m months behind, but I’ve done every month up until July. And I have all the bottle up until November, just waiting to try them. This counts as a win for me!
Physical Appearance Tattoo I got the tattoo. I watched the World Cup final, literally watching the second tick away. Probably the tiniest tattoo ever, but I love it so much!
Thrill-Seeking Activity Bungee Jumping Nope. Didn’t even schedule it. Still a punk. I need to get my life.
Unconventional Travel Backpacking train ride to ME B&B Nope. I even took off a weekend from work to make it happen. But travel costs, and pricing, and trying to find the perfect place on airbnb. Excuses, excuses.
Wildcard Pierce Something Other Than your Ears Yes sir! Because I kinda rolled this one in at the end, it counts! I got my nose pierced. It’s almost healed, and I’m currently shopping for a great nose ring.
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This is my favorite new friend here. Corey is a musician, he plays trombone, and he’s amazing!

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These are a good number of my NYC friends and co-workers. This is the surprise 30th birthday party Chris threw me.

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This is the almost-finished glass of chocolate soy milk when I first tried it. Trader Joe’s is the only brand I’ve tried. It’s so yummy!

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The is the best shot I have of me dancing on a table top. There were about 4 of us crammed onto this not very strong table, but we made it work. The girl was shocked that I wanted pictures, which is why she’s making that face. Too bad the random stranger I enlisted to take the photo wasn’t a better cameraman.

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Me right after my nose ring piercing. Hopefully you can see it well. I didn’t get great shots of it that night. Too much darkness, too much alcohol.

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And the tattoo, last but not least. Libra scales on my ring finger. Love it so much!

 

So I didn’t finish them all, but 7 out of 10 ain’t bad.

There’s good news here. My friend and I decided to extend the list until the end of the year. I don’t know that I’ll get to Maine, but I can at least try to finish the dates with Chris and maybe, maybe, think about possibly looking into the chance of seeking out a schedule for bungee jumping.

At that point, I’ll have 9 out of 10. Not all accomplished by my 30th birthday, but damn close.

We were also talking about doing this again next year. Fewer categories of course. We were just far too ambitious this time around.

We haven’t decided on the categories yet, but they will definitely have the same intention of pushing us outside of our comfort levels.

The only category we’ve decided on so far is “Creative Project”. That’s a working title for now. But the idea is to take something we like to do, and to commit to taking it to the next level creatively.

For me that would be continuing with the video posts. I’ve made more test videos, but I don’t like them enough to post them. I need to just get over myself and go with it. I don’t really have issues with avoiding attention or anything like that. But I do have some hesitancy when it comes to public attention, especially seeking out public attention. But I’m trying to get over that, and I think the video blogs will help.

I had some other ideas for other categories. I was thinking something like “Grown-Up Skill Building”. The idea of this category is to learn something that a fully functioning adult should know, but perhaps you don’t. For me, that might be learning to change my own oil or something. It’s not a very exciting category, so it probably won’t make the cut.

Another idea was to try on someone else’s hobby. I don’t have a title for that yet, but it would be something like picking an interesting friend, finding out their favorite hobby, and then trying it out with them or alone.

And one more is to focus on health/fitness. Really pushing ourselves into something fitness-related that’s outside our normal bounds. For me that might be like committing to do some sort of workout 5 days a week. For my friend, maybe training for a bike marathon maybe?

These are all just ideas. We have another month and a half to sort it out. But I’m loving this bucket list idea because it gives you focus for the year. Having specific fun-or-self-improving-or-meaningful goals gives you a sense of purpose. At least it feels that way to me.

Wish me luck on getting those dates planned an executed. Did I mention Chris is heading to Poland in two days? The life of a musician’s wife.

June’s Wine School: Dry Riesling

As I mentioned when I discussed May’s wine choice, I purchased this bottle from a place in California and had to have it shipped to Missouri, where one of my best friends then physically brought it to me in New York.

Totally worth it though because I really wanted to try the exact wine Eric Asimov suggested, and I simply don’t have it in me to visit multiple different wine shops locally.

Not when it can be found online.

What can I say?

I’m a millennial, don’t judge me.

So, I haven’t been blogging with the consistency I would like, but five posts in four weeks is an improvement over recent history. Plus, I’ve been busy.

I went back to yoga! Hot yoga is the best! I’ve been so busy with this departmental transition at work. if you follow me on Instagram, you saw me post one of my last “goodnight Empire State Building” posts meaning I’m moving to the day shift. I’m still trying out the video blogging thing. A few logistics are tripping me up, but I’m almost there.

And sleep, sleep takes up a bunch of my time.

Anyway, back to this wine.

I tried June’s wine the day after I tried the Sancerre from May.

I think I’ve mentioned once or twice how much I love Riesling. It’s my favorite white wine. I was already moving more towards drier Rieslings even before I fell in love with Bordeaux. But since my love affair with Bordeaux began, I pretty much have to drink a dry Riesling if I’m going to drink Riesling at all.

Expecting to love this bottle of wine, I eagerly opened it. And I was not disappointed. I was everything I already love about Riesling: sweet-but-not-too-sweet, acidic tartness somewhere far in the back, feels like 100% juice in the mouth, always inviting me to take another sip.

Let’s talk about sweet-but-not-too-sweet. If you don’t like sweet wines at all, you won’t like this. But Riesling has always been my go-to wine for super newbies to try. People who swear wine is too bitter for them can usually find something to like about Riesling. The wine I usually have them try is now too sweet for me to drink with any regularity, but this Riesling was great, not too sweet.

Now about this acidic tartness. The best comparison is the feeling you get in your mouth when you’re eating sauteed cabbage that’s been finished with vinegar. In my mouth, it has that same tartness. If you don’t like cabbage, ignore that comparison. But seriously, sauteed cabbage with bacon and finished with white wine vinegar? So good. That’s what I should have made to go with this wine!

No time for regrets though. We’re on to the mouth feel. When I say it felt like 100% juice, I mean it didn’t feel heavy. Unless you shop exclusively organic, you’ve at some point bought juice that wasn’t quite all “juice”. That syrupy mouth-coating feeling you get from Hawaiian Punch, Sunny D, or juice cocktail is the feeling I’m saying this wine didn’t have. It just felt clean and clear, if that makes sense.

Last is the inviting nature. I’ve never had trouble finishing a bottle of Riesling, and this bottle was no different. Unlike the Beaujolais, which I had to put in effort to finish the bottle of, the Riesling was gone. And missed. It surprised me when I discovered the bottle was empty. It wasn’t a happy moment.

The bottle I tried was Donnhoff Nahe Riesling Trocken. I found it online, and I think I paid ~$20 for it, not including shipping.

May's bottle of Sancerre and June's bottle of Riesling. Riesling is on the left.

May’s bottle of Sancerre and June’s bottle of Riesling. Riesling is on the left.

Because of the time I took off from blogging, I ended up purchasing the next five months of wine school bottles all at once, which was nice because I saved on the shipping.

If you’d like to see what Eric Asimov from the New York Times has to say about Dry Riesling, click here.

May’s Wine School: Sancerre

Hey y’all!

I know I’m extra late here, but due to being super busy and having such a difficult time even finding the recommended wine for Wine School, I didn’t even try the May wine until the middle of August.

And I took 100+ days off from blogging, but I’m finally posting this now.

Instead of going to all these different local wine shops (because who has time for that?), I just used Google shopping and finally found the exact bottle I wanted from a wine shop in California.

Eric Asimov chose some pretty hard to find wines. May came and went and I still couldn’t find the wine in New York, you know, cause I looked so hard. So I was back to the store in California.

Here’s the catch, the store doesn’t ship to New York State or Illinois. But luckily, my best friend lives in St. Louis, and they do ship to Missouri. I called him and begged him to let me send the wine to him. He agreed because he’s the best.

All he had to do was ship it to me once it arrived. By this time, it was mid-June. My friend who works for UPS gave me advice on the best way to get this bottle to New York from Missouri. It involves a bit of don’t ask, don’t tell of the is-this-alcohol-let’s-not-discuss-it variety. Suffice it to say, it didn’t go as planned.

Luckily, my friend came to visit NYC in August. He packed my wine in his suitcase and hand-delivered the bottles. Yes, I said bottles.

 

Sancerre and June's bottle of Riesling

Sancerre and June’s bottle of Riesling

I went through all of this just to try this wine, but it makes for a good story I guess. The silver lining is that they also had June’s wine: Riesling, which is pictured above with the Sancerre. Don’t even get me started on how much I love Riesling, and how I’ve been moving toward drier Rieslings recently anyway, which is exactly the type chosen for Wine School.

Even better than the hand delivered wine was the fun weekend my best friend and I had while he was here. We took what had to be our 37th selfie, and I feel like I’m getting pretty good at taking them.

I usually start with cutting my face out. But I get it right on the 2nd or 3rd try.

I usually start with cutting my face out. But I get it right on the 2nd or 3rd try.

So how did I feel about Sancerre? Well… ever since I began my love affair with Bordeaux, I haven’t loved white wine nearly as much as I used to. But the wine wasn’t bad. it’s made from sauvignon blanc grapes, but apparently it’s different from sauvignon blanc wine.

We were encouraged to respond emotionally to the wine rather than “hyper-rational”, so that’s what I tried to do. In hindsight, I don’t remember loving the wine and I wasn’t fantasizing about what meals go great with it. But I liked it.

The taste of it reminded me of mud pies. Well, not mud pies exactly. Did you ever make a mud pie as a child? I did, but not out of mud. My “mud pies” were made from sand in the sandbox at the park near my childhood best friend’s apartment. I may or may not have taken a bite just to see how powerful my imagination was. My imagination was not powerful enough to make a sandy mud pie taste like anything but sandbox.

Moving on.

I did check a couple of times to see if there was sand in the bottom of my glass, like maybe some micro pieces of the cork got in somehow. Something about Sancerre reminded me of that time in my childhood.

I ended up drinking the Sancerre along with a pretty interesting meal. I had a friend over for a girl’s night in dinner. I made homemade shrimp alfredo with spinach fettuccine, roasted zucchini, roasted yellow squash, roasted asparagus, collard greens and roasted chicken. I love salads, but when it’s time to cook for a guest, no light meals. I refuse.

Don't let all the veggies fool you. This was not a light meal!

Don’t let all the veggies fool you. This was not a light meal!

While I’m thinking about emotional responses to the wine, I remember feeling peppy. It wasn’t a long lingering bubble bath kind of wine. It was a 90s pop music sing-a-long kind of wine. On top of a flavorful meal, the wine combatted the feelings of wanting to curl into a sleepy little ball. We watched The First Wives Club while we ate, and I feel like Sancerre made me just a touch wittier with my talking during the movie commentary.

Overall, I didn’t love it enough to put the wine in the regular rotation. But I would probably jump at the opportunity to enjoy a wine flight at a bar or restaurant that included Sancerre.

Image via Amazon

 

Obviously, I’m super far behind, but I’ll try and catch up to November. Here are the upcoming wines.
June: Riesling
July: Zinfandel
August: Chablis
September: Chianti
October: Champagne
November: Rioja

It’s like he knew my birthday month is October and wanted to celebrate!

I’ve already tried June’s wine, I just have to post what I wrote about it. After that I have five more. Five new wine choices in just a few weeks is my goal. Wish me luck to actually find those selections though!

Video

It’s Official, I Make Video Blogs

Yessir, you heard it here first. I finally got over my fascination with the imperfections with my teeth. After some fiddling on my phone and Microsoft Live Video Maker (or whatever it’s called), I have a video I’m ready to show the world.

It’s basically a one-take video with some random ass captions, but I like it. I think. I’m pretty sure it’s as good as is going to get.

I’m actually really excited for the opportunity to share this new hobby. I think it’s a great way to add some videos, which I’ve already said I was eager to do.

I reserve the right to immediately regret this and then do my best to scrub any evidence of this from the internet. Then I’ll go on back to Wine School with my tail between my legs, mournful for every trying to step outside of my bounds.

Hopefully, this is just the start of something beautiful. My best girlfriend and I have been discussing the 30th bucket birthday list (which I promise to update on how it went very very soon), and how inspiring it was. We decided to make another bucket list. This one will be for the entire year of 2015 and not tied to a specific age.

One category we are discussing is Creative Project. She’s thinking photography, and I’m thinking these vlogs will be it for me. We shall see.

I know you could just scroll to the bottom to see the video, but hopefully you read all this stream-of-consciousness stuff leading up to it.

I case you want to just see the videos I make on my channel, you can use this link: Cocktails with Chicago-Style Girl. Otherwise, I’ll embed the videos here and you can see them in the context of a blog post.

Thanks for reading! And now for the visual learners…

What do you think?

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