Tag: Food

Thanksgiving with the Family

Thanksgiving with the Family

Thanksgiving.  During the year, probably the holiday I look forward to most.  This year, it had special meaning for me.  Of course, I had a chance to go home, but it was the first time I was able to be home with my two younger sisters since we all left for college.  In fact, it was the first time we were able to share a true family meal with this group of people in a long time.

My best friend (a family member, minus the DNA), the guy with the yellow shirt, was in Nicaragua all summer working with an organization called Amigos for Christ; building wells for those who need clean water.  Between his dedicated service in Central America and my internship up here in Chicago, we haven’t all been together since last Easter, which was a long time ago.

So this thanksgiving, besides the great food, family parties, football and hikes, I was especially grateful for the chance to reconnect.

Choosing the Right City

Choosing the Right City

Throughout the travel season, I’ve noticed that quite a few students are applying to a wide array of schools. Applying to many schools can be a good way to keep your options open, but it can also be quite time consuming. I would recommend narrowing the list to save your self some time (and money if there are application fees, which Loyola does NOT have). One of the easiest ways to shorten the list, spend some time considering the city your school is located in and whether or not it’s a good fit for you.

Some things to consider about cities:

  • Distance- Is it the right distance from home? Are you looking to stay close by or do you want to move further away to get a new experience? What forms of transportation can you take to get back & forth? Will you be able to afford to commute home easily for holidays?
  • Weather/Climate- Are you looking for a city with all 4 seasons or just 1? Do you want a snowy winter? Do you want to be near a beach? (Loyola offers both of those options!)


  • Rural Life Vs. City Life- Are you looking to study in a small, rural town or do you want to experience fast-pace, city life? Are you looking for a quiet environment or are you okay with a little city noise?
  • Transit- Will you be able to easily commute to grocery stores, restaurants, etc? Do you need a car? How does parking work on campus? Can you rely on public transit to get around? Or is everything within walking distance? (At Loyola you can always rely on the CTA, Chicago Transit Authority, to get you around the city at no cost with your U-Pass!)
  • Diversity- How diverse is the campus & the neighborhood? Will you get a different experience from your hometown? What opportunities are there to explore different cultures, beliefs, etc.? (Loyola is in one of the most diverse neighborhoods in the country, Rogers Park.)
  • Internship/Job Opportunities- Are there businesses nearby who will provide internship opportunities? How far will you have to commute for work? How far are you willing to commute for an internship or job? (Being in Chicago, Loyola is very close in proximity to uncountable internship & experiential learning opportunities.)

There’s no right or wrong answer to the questions listed above, they’re all things you need to consider and answer honestly for yourself when deciding if a college or city is a good fit for you.

Good Luck!

Fall’s Fun Functions Part 2

Fall’s Fun Functions Part 2

As promised, I am writing another blog today. To continue on my Saturday, along with having my fortune told, I got to experience other cool things, some that I had previously done and some that I had not.

One thing that I had never done before was pet and feed a Llama. In fact, I don’t think I’ve ever even seen a live Llama, so getting up close to it and feeding it was really cool. Here’s a picture:

I also sang karaoke there, which was recorded, so I have a CD of myself singing the original version of “Life Is A Highway” by Tom Cochrane. I played some Frisbee there as well, realizing that I am quite horrible at it, but I am pretty good at rock climbing. There was a rock climbing wall put up there, and I got the chance to climb the harder segment of it. I got to the top, which felt pretty great considering I hadn’t done it since high school several years ago.

I also got to see some people dressed up as Batman, Harry Potter, and all sorts of other characters, and I saw the Jesse White Tumbling Team perform again.

In between activities, I ate chili cheese dogs and the best M&M cookies I’ve ever had, and I collected souvenirs from the day to keep as memorabilia. It’s great to know I have three pairs of crazy “sunglasses” now that I’ll never actually wear anywhere.

After such an awesome day, it was nice to know that I could hang out on Sunday and…study. Since I had my first Accounting exam on Monday, I spent the day brushing up on my material and touching up any final pieces of knowledge I would need for the test. Last year, when I took my first Accounting exam, I was nervous, but going into this one, I felt confident and ready because I’d taken a different approach to studying. Now I get to wait till next Monday to find out what I got on my exam, but until then, I can begin studying for my first Macroeconomics exam coming up in a week and a half, and preparing my Accounting project due soon after that.

The Taste!

The Taste!

The first year I came to Chicago the Taste was definitely a lot bigger than this year! But food is food and if it tastes good, who am I to argue.

This year I decided to attend again. While my visit might not have been the best for my wallet, I got to sample some great food: deep dish pizza, rib tips, cheesecake and Italian Ice. I snagged all this for for 16 tickets, roughly 10 dollars because I split 32 tickets with a friend.

Either way it was worth the money, it was a good time and a fun date. After, my friend and I took a walk along the water and looked at all the boats docked in the yacht club.

The fact is the best thing about the taste is not the food, it is not always the people (sometimes too many come to the Taste), but its about the environment. Chicago is one of a kind.

(Food) Adventure is Out There!

(Food) Adventure is Out There!

One of the perks (or possibly negatives) about living on your own is that food no longer magically appears on the kitchen table at regular intervals. Because of this, and the fact that my roommates and I are trying to eat healthy, we have been keeping a Food Journal.

In it, we write down new recipes we try, with pictures, comments, rankings and suggestions for our next attempts.

Our Notorious Food Journal

We’ve tried plenty of recipes, including some juice ones with our wonderful and fantastic Breville Juice Fountain.

The recipes tend to be hit and miss, but trying them out is good practice for the girl who once melted a spoon making mac and cheese and broke her foot opening a jar of peanut butter (don’t worry about it; it’s a long story).

Ellen and Sandy's Wok Adventure

One of the things I’ve learned from this is experience is that whole lesson about not judging a book by its cover. For example, the above stir fry looks pretty delicious. However, since we made it before we actually had soy sauce, it was super bland and we ended up giving it a 2.25/4 ranking.

Avocado Pasta

On the other hand, this pasta with avocado sauce was one of the best things I’ve ever eaten! (In fact, I gave it a 4.75/5).

In case you decide you want to start experimenting in the kitchen, this is a great and easy alfredo alternative:

Blend together…

1 avocado

1 garlic clove

1/8 lemon

2 tbsp olive oil

1/4 tsp salt

dash of pepper

Pour over pasta and thank me later.

Cashew Alfredo w/ Kelp Noodles

Oh, but back to the whole judging bit, I show you Exhibit A: Cashew Alfredo with Kelp Noodles. Despite looking like, well… don’t make me say it, this might actually be one of the best things I’ve eaten this summer.

It’s currently the only recipe in our Food Journal that I’ve awarded with a 5/5. Another alfredo alternative, my roommate and I made this when she was trying out a raw food challenge. It’s SUPER easy to make, and because it’s raw, it’s great for a hot summer day.

Once, again, whip out that trusty blender (or in our case, a Magic Bullet) and mix…

1 1/2 cloves of garlic

1 1/4 cup cashews

1 oz basil

1 tbsp lemon

Pour the mixture over a package of kelp noodles, and bask in the glory of your newfound cooking skills.

We’ve tried plenty of other recipes, including strawberry apple streusel oat squares, quinoa with sweet potato and penne tomato alredo ala spinach. Every single attempt has been a culinary adventure.

I know that this can be scary. (Literally. I once found some of my roommate’s ginger root and ran screaming to her, asking why we had mandrake root in our refrigerator.) But if I can do this, so can you!

If you’re bored over the summer, I highly recommend you mix it up and do this. All you need is a notebook, a pen and a lot of patience. Remember guys, adventure is out there!

(Psst: No, you’re not going crazy. The recipes I posted are slightly different from what they’re hyperlinked to because we were often missing some ingredients. Feel free to try either one!)

Block Par-tay

Block Par-tay

Twice a year, or each semester, the school holds a block party for the Water Tower Campus. They shut down the intersection of Wabash and Pearson.  It’s pretty great.  Normally, they grill out, have dessert, have a band and some promotional stuff.  This semester, however, they really came through with great vendors.  Along the sidewalks there was Qdoba, Potbelly, Taco Burrito King and Connie’s Pizza.

Then there was a live band, which unfortunately didn’t  stay very long because it was slightly rainy.  But the dessert station more than made up for the lack of entertainment.  Case and point:

There was also a photo booth that my roommate and fellow blogger Hannah Colborn took some really silly pics in.  Good food, good times!

I Can No Longer Eat Granola Bars

I Can No Longer Eat Granola Bars

It’s the last week of class.  For me, I only have one full day of classes left, and that will be cut short due to the fact that I’m going to see the Dalai Lama (post to follow).

But why, you ask, can I no longer eat granola bars?  I will tell you.

Most mornings, I roll out of bed after hitting the snooze button a good five to seven times, frantically attempt to groom myself so that I look decent for class, grab a granola bar and make a mad dash for the shuttle.

Four years I have been attending Loyola.  I love it here!  But so help me, I cannot eat another granola bar.  They just remind me of the not fun times of college.

I eat them especially during midterms and finals.  It doesn’t matter if I change up the flavor or the brand, they all taste of sleep deprivation and sadness.

You are probably thinking, uh… why didn’t you eat anything else for breakfast?  Honestly. I don’t know.  I’m sure I’ve had an apple from time to time. Perhaps some Pop-Tarts.  But granola bars were just my go to snack.

The point here is this: School is nearly over.  It’s been real, and it’s been good, and it’s been real good. But if I never eat another granola bar ever again, I think I will be OK with that.

Giving Up Meat Is Not That Bad After All…

Giving Up Meat Is Not That Bad After All…

For the second year in a row, I have decided to abstain from eating meat during Lent completely, not just on Fridays. I take these 40 days to reflect on how I have been doing in regards to my faith life, and how I can improve in my relationship with God, but those around me.

At first, it can be hard because I always feel hungry, but I know that this brief sacrifice is worth it.

Over the weeks, I have found meatless options just in case I am not up to cooking my own meal. Oysy is a sushi bar off of the Grand L stop. The restaurant offers an interesting lunch special that lasts until 5:00 p.m.! For $13, one can get miso soup, vegetable tempura, edamame, six pieces of sushi, salad and a grilled seafood or meat.

I chose to go with the grilled eel and I thought it was delicious, filling, and definitely cost effective. The ambiance is very relaxing, and the service was great. If I could have meals like this until Lent is over, it comes to show that giving up meat is not that bad after all.

Argyle Eateries

Argyle Eateries

This delicious bowl of pho hits the spot but doesn't hit the wallet!

One thing that I really appreciate about Chicago, especially the Rogers Park area, is the diverse cultures that one can learn from. A way that I like to learn about people’s culture is through the food.

Off of the Argyle el stop are many Chinese and Vietnamese restaurants that are authentic and affordable (and delicious). A restaurant that has become my favorite is Tank Noodle at the corner of Argyle and Broadway.

Tank Noodle is well known for its generous helpings of pho (beef noodle soup). They also offer different kinds of pho, such as chicken noodle soup, or egg noodle soup. I also enjoy the smoothies with tapioca balls and their Thai iced tea.

This past Saturday I ventured there with friends to take a break from catching up with readings.

Twilight, 2011 Lights Festival and Birthday Fun!

Twilight, 2011 Lights Festival and Birthday Fun!

Every November Chicago’s Lights Festival parades down the Mag Mile to ring in the holiday. Conveniently, the parade has always  fallen on my birthday weekend.  I was especially anxious to commence this weekend’s activities since I had 3 papers due consecutively Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday!

As I’m sure you’re all aware, this was also the opening weekend for Twilight: Breaking Dawn Part 1 (Don’t judge me!)  Friday, my friends and I decided to go to dinner at the Grand Lux Café.  It’s basically the same thing as The Cheesecake Factory, except it’s on the corner of Michigan and Ontario, and has an awesome view of the city. The best part of dinner was sharing a basket of beignets for dessert (fried dough rolled in powder sugar with chocolate sauce on the side— yes, please!)

The Rotunda at the Grand Lux Cafe

Following dinner, we then headed over to River East 21 to catch the movie.  I’m still not sure how I feel about it…

Saturday, my friend and I decided to hit up some vintage thrift stores in Andersonville.  One really cool store is the Woolly Mammoth.  Its more oddities and weird art collaborations, but they have vintage stuff too.  They also have a taxidermy section, but it’s not all that creepy since they as they dress the animals up. One of the deer heads on the wall was wearing a tie and glasses!  It’s definitely worth checking out.

Saturday evening was the parade. My friends and I basically missed the beginning as we were stuck under Michigan Ave. trying to find stairs that were not blocked off.  After heading north a couple of blocks, we successfully managed to get street level, just in time to catch Mickey waving to the crowds.

Mickey!

All in all, it was a fun weekend!

All photos by: Raven Icaza