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The past several days here in NYC have been just glorious, with warm weather and sunshine finally showing up, giving me freedom from tights and the motivation to spend an exorbitant amount of money for spring-y blond highlights.  There’s no better way to jaunt off to work than tightless, trenched, coffee in hand and to traipse through Washington Square Park en route.

An iconic spot, the arch at Washington Square park is recognizable and has been featured in many movies (and blown-up in some, like that Zombie, world-ending one with Will Smith).  It also graces the jacket, and the title, of Joanne Rendell’s second novel, CROSSING WASHINGTON SQUARE.

“A charming, witty, and cerebral novel.”
-Nicola Kraus, co-author of The Nanny Diaries

Residing solidly in the chick-lit category, this title offers more than just the expected romantic encounters.  Maybe because Rendell has a PhD in English Literature, this book is peppered with references to classics that I felt guilty for not having yet read.  Following a likable, English teacher NYC implant from the South (fittingly, a professor of popular women’s literature), readers sympathize with her character while looking back at their own college days.

Frolicking in front of the arch last summerThe perfect light read for a gorgeous spring day!  As still a relative newcomer to the city myself, I still find cheap amusement in the awareness I have when reading about NYC.  Being able to nod my head and think “yes, yes I know where her apartment is.. that street corner.. that bar” has yet to get old.

Washington Square Park is an iconic, gorgeous attraction not to be missed on your next trip to the city.  There are often performers entertaining the crowds, along with sun bathers, young mothers, and readers on the bench.  It’s under construction now, so I eagerly await the renovations.

If you’re lucky, you may even see a sun-bather, like the picture I was lucky to have snapped last summer:

Cross your fingers for this view!

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It’s Friday, why don’t we all put down our latest novel, link arms and take a little jaunt in this gorgeous Chicago weather and our favorite little BYOB spot and celebrate the weekend and the win by the Cubs.

Our latest BYO Crew!

Our latest BYO Crew!

Oh, wait, you’re sick of your go-to BYOB restaurant and want something new, that’s also affordable?  I mean who can afford to pay for drinks in this economy! Oh I’m hearing an interest in outdoor seating?  Can do!

Take a gander at the amazing new website http://www.GoByo.com!  Able to sort by such important characteristics as location, meals served and features (40 available! Such as outdoor seating, dancing, or if you’re drinking so many calories you need to compensate with light food, they even have a healthy meal option!).  Much more reliable than Yelp!, this nifty little site was publicized in Thrillist’s Daily Chicago email (sign up here: http://www.thrillist.com/signup) and will definitely be a site I frequent.

Happy Friday & GO CUBS GO!

True Connoisseurs = Classy Wine

True Connoisseurs = Classy Wine

I like to think of myself as a wine connoisseur, though as my OUB & OAD (aunt & uncle, the legitimate connoisseurs) would tell you, I just like all booze!  Though my palette may not be picky, my wallet definitely is (which bodes well for cheap wines sold in bulk).  So even though I can’t afford nice “vintage” wine (not to mention wouldn’t be aware of the difference), I like to know a little bit about what I’m drinking and what I should be cursing the next morning.  That’s where Alpana comes in…

The youngest Master Sommelier (quite the title, and she didn’t even go to a real college per se but a wine school!), Alpana Singh resides in Chicago, has worked at luxurious restaurant Everest and has written the successful book Alpana Pours: About being a woman, loving wine & having great relationships.  Quite the title and I admit I was skeptical, until Alpana pulled me in with her wit, knowledge, and wine jokes even I could appreciate.

Summer Wine!

Summer Wine!

Though I’m not quite finished with the book (I thought I had lost it for awhile and found it on the shelf, right where it belongs… Who would’a thought?!), I did come across an Alpana article in the Tribune’s “RedEye” today I thought I would share, that’s so relevant on this (finally!) sunny day.

To RedEye and Alpana, hope you don’t mind me copying this article, and my deepest thanks go to you for choosing affordable wines to celebrate the season, so go ahead and pour yourself a glass of sunshine! For more Alpana, visit her blog at http://www.whatwouldalpanadrink.blogspot.com.

Wine faves change with the weather

By: Alpana Singh, April 15, 2009
Alpana Singh

Alpana Singh

People often ask me, “What’s your favorite wine?” While I do have certain preferences, I find that my answer varies according to my mood, which often is dictated by the weather.

During the cool winter months, I tend to comfort myself with rich, full-bodied wines such as cabernet sauvignon or malbec. Their velvety textures envelop me like a warm blanket, and they pair well with cool-weather classics such as pot roast and braised short ribs.

Now that we are beginning to see signs of spring and the weather is beginning to warm up, I’m starting to crave lighter dishes and more refreshing wines to go with them. Lighter-bodied wines that are low on oak and big on flavors of green apples, lemons and stone fruits complement the fresh peas, asparagus, morel mushrooms and leeks I enjoy during spring season. As I grow tired of the cold, I become bored with the big, heavy reds, and my favorites become sauvignon blanc, torrontes, chenin blanc and assyrtiko. The aromas of these lighter varietals lighten my mood as they evoke the essence of spring and warmer days–crisp weather, freshly cut flowers, sprouting lawns and farmer’s market produce. I’ll enjoy these wines until the weather truly begins to warm up, and by then I’ll have a new set of favorites.

While we may not have the ability to control the weather, we can certainly turn to these styles of wine to put a little sunshine in our glass.

2007 Alamos torrontes
Argentina, $12
Torrontes is an Argentine specialty. With its exotically perfumed notes of white flowers and peaches, it’s a wonderful match for asparagus or your first outdoor meal of the season.

2008 Graham Beck chenin blanc
South Africa, $15
The French use chenin blanc to make slightly sweet vouvray wine. South Africans, who refer to chenin as steen, prefer a drier version with flavors of yellow apples and honeysuckle. Pair with morel mushrooms and asparagus or a tangy wedge of goat cheese.

2008 Brander sauvignon blanc
Santa Ynez, Calif.; $15
Vibrant and juicy with flavors of grapefruit, lemon zest and freshly cut grass, this selection is more in line with a New Zealand style than a California one. Pair it with a spring pea risotto for the ultimate ode to spring.

2008 Sigalas assyrtiko
Santorini, Greece; $18
Fans of crisp Italian whites will enjoy the refreshing zing of assyrtiko, an ancient Greek varietal indigenous to the island of Santorini. Winemaker Paris Sigalas produces a style bursting with citrus fruit. Pair with shellfish, grilled fish and Greek-inspired dishes.

Full article here: http://redeye.chicagotribune.com/red-041509-alpana,0,5798755.column

I love MediaBistro.com.  I follow them on Twitter and visit their site daily, scanning their job boards and drooling all over the “Senior Publicist” and “Managing Editor” positions available in NYC, wishing  I were qualified to apply.

In an effort to further expand my repertoire of skills (though unfortunately still far below CEO level), I have signed up for MediaBistro’s “Copywriting Essentials” class taking place in Chicago on Wednesday, April 29.   With the subtitle “Write marketing and branding copy that sells in a lucrative market”, I hope to learn skills that will make me more capable of branding a book or an author as a product; a commodity consumers need.

Visit MediaBistro.com for details!

Visit MediaBistro.com for details!

Join me in the class! For details/sign up click this link: http://www.mediabistro.com/courses/cache/crs4472.asp

As a special deal, if you sign up by April 23, 2009 I discovered a promo code (APRIL25)  for 25% off, making this $65 class only $49 (affordable even to an unemployed person like myself!  I’m a little nervous to go on my own and would love the company, so please accept my personal invite and register already.

Yesterday morning started out relatively sunny, before the snow flurries came.  As I was out strolling through to city I saw so many signs of spring I couldn’t resist from taking pictures.  See my collage, below, and retain hope that Spring will eventually “spring” in Chicago!

chicago-spring-collage-1

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