Friday, February 9, 2018

6 Great Lunch Restaurants

I like food.

Who doesn't?

Setting foot in a new restaurant inspires all senses. The atmosphere, smells, excitement for trying new cuisine, sights, sounds, all of it. I especially love to try a new restaurant on my lunch break. It's like taking a mini vacation in the middle of the day. I'm a fan of Mike Cunningham's restaurants. I could spend hours alone on the courtyard of Cobblestone Grill in Zionsville or rooftop patio of Livery with friends.

Here are my top 6 lunch spots.

Tlaolli: for tacos. You've never know about it if you weren't looking. It's a small house in Englewood between downtown and Irvington. Try it in the summer and eat out back. Go next door and grab a cup of coffee. You'll remember this experience, I promise.

20 Tap: for burgers and beer. This midtown spot feels like home. It's a neighborhood bar meets incredible food.

Petite Chou: for french onion soup with a side of frites. Has anything she has touched not been gold? This is a hefty meal, but sometimes when I'm on the patio at a table next to ivy, I feel like if only for a moment, I'm in Paris.

Bluebeard: for atmosphere. If you're a reader, this place was designed for you. They bring the receipts in books and handmade the long patio table out front

Sandra's Rice & Noodles: for everything. Take a hike at Fort Harrison State Park and head to Sandra's. Everything here is good. Ha & Sang are the most humble kind people who create the most beautiful dishes. GO!

Iozzo's: for the patio especially at night. I'm a fan of courtyards. This family is lovely and they've been at it for a LONG time.

Tuesday, January 23, 2018

Right Here, Right Now

Right now there is someone tugging on your shirt. You have the flu, a temperature of 102 or is it 103? You haven’t had time to check. Feels like 105. There is a pile of mac & cheese crusted dishes spilling out from the sink. Did you feed the dog? Feels like maybe, but he’s looking at you like you’re a complete jerk. Has he eaten at all this week except for that one time you caught him eating your salad from your work bag. Poor dog. You’ve driven him to eating salads. And you had to skip lunch that day because that half eaten by a dog salad already put you over budget for the week. Did he put the low-fat balsamic dressing on before he ripped open the Panera box and devoured your lettuce?

One kid needs to poop, one is hungry, one is throwing 54 crayons in the front room and you’re not even phased by it. Why does pooping take 45 minutes for everyone else but you? You begin to get cold chills. Sleep. You can’t remember the last time you crawled into bed and slept for six straight hours. You’ve convinced yourself you don’t need it, but science says otherwise. An email pops up on your phone. 2-hour delay at school tomorrow. Your boss needs a report by 10 am, your friends haven’t heard from you in weeks and they’re worried, and suddenly it strikes you. You’re out of coffee. This is the straw that broke…

Have you been here.^? Completely worn down, exhausted, pulled in every direction but uncertain what path to step down first? You’ve been here. We all have. It’s almost unfair to say “this too shall pass” because maybe it won’t pass right away. Maybe it will linger. This flu has been holding on to your co-workers for weeks. What if it holds you too? When was the last time you were held?

It’s a shame a gracefully aged woman doesn’t drop from the ceiling right now, grab your elbow and say:

“Enjoy this, dear. I’d give anything to go back.”

You could use that pep talk right now, not the hundred other times.

“Enjoy this dear. I’d give anything to go back.”

 Would you? You ask the ceiling. Would you go back to this moment? Just then your 6-year-old walks up, gives you that head tilt and vomits into his dirty fingernailed hands. First one down. You scoop him up without thinking, run him to the sink where he finishes his vomit. He looks up at you mortified with large scared eyes. You kneel down.

“It’s ok, sweet boy. It’s going to be ok,” you say.

And suddenly he’s ok and you remember no one’s words will affect him like yours. You clean up the puke, wet the wash cloth, snuggle him into the couch and turn on his favorite movie. Just before you tackle the next to do, you crawl in beside him. His sick face lights up. Your daughter shows up…

“I’ll take care of you,” she says. And you know she will.

And so you let the mac & cheese crusted dishes linger one more day, you pray the dog doesn't die, you glance around you at the toys spilling out from every failed attempt at organization and you day you may actually miss being needed like this; being relied on like you are the only person on earth who matters.

Because you are.

“Enjoy this dear. I’d give anything to go back.”

Saturday, January 20, 2018

A Winter Hike and A New Race

Anyone who has competed in an endurance race knows the moments where the mind can defeat the body...deflated, victorious, defeated, full of endorphins and deflated again.

This happens for me during every mini marathon at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. It's like some deflates me like a helium filled balloon on a birthday Saturday morning.

It's a mental game.

I decided to train for another half and I finally got back out on the trail to experience winter at my favorite little hiking spot.  

Tuesday, January 16, 2018

The Perfect Day

Today was perfect. I took an intentional day off to be with you on your day off from school. The sun rising over the backyard while slowly sipping on coffee was beautiful. 
The Uno picnic in the living room was fun despite losing and the blurry picture. You're becoming increasingly difficult to photograph especially when throwing red balloons at my face.
And then a surprise trip to the Children's Museum. On one of those Mother's Day questionnaires, you said your favorite thing to do with me is the Children's Museum. I love the look on your face when you run down the ramp toward the entrance. Purest joy. Ps. You have my cheeks. They are pictured perfectly here and they make me want to smile fuller more often.
 And Paddington 2 at a theater we've never been. You whispered so many times: “this is so good, mommy.” It reminded me of how much you like me fully in tune with what you’re in tune to. I’m still working here. And then this place:
The minute we walked in I felt like two bulls had literally just entered a china shop. I got nervous and asked for a table which was the most delicate round circle made with marble and plated with china and perhaps crystal water glasses. Two young ladies were attempting to enjoy a girls afternoon. We gave each other the eye, stuffed our faces with two overpriced pieces of cake and got OUTTA there giggling the whole way home about how the two of us do not belong in places like that.

We belong in our kitchen stuffing overpriced cake in each other's faces.

Monday, January 15, 2018

5 Records Worth Collecting

Today I caught Jack digging thru records trying to find the matching album of a song he had just heard on Pandora.
Records don't have a skip button. They require work, selection, effort, respect for the artist and for the circular disc. One simple scratch can ruin 4 songs.

I've been building a collection for a few years with the intention of one day handing it to Jack. I've been very selective...quality over quantity.

The Beatles-Abbey Road. Yes, this is so predictable. You know the cover, you know Paul McCartney is barefoot. You know every song on this album. And they are some of the best songs ever written meant for any guest any time.
Vance Joy-We can listen to this on repeat for days. It's kid friendly, it's brilliant. I love it. He has a new album coming out end of February. So far so good.
Joe Pug-Nation of Heat. If ya like Bob Dylan, you're gong to love Joe pug. This album has two of my favorite Joe Pug songs. He's a brilliant storyteller in all forms of the word.
Damien Rice-My Favourite Faded Fantasy. If you don't like slow sad songs, this album is not for you, but when I get an hour alone, this is always it.
Ray Lamontagne-Trouble. 3 of my favorite Ray songs are on this album. He also has a new album due out this spring. His voice...

Sunday, January 7, 2018

4 Books I Couldn't Put Down

It used to just be about lawns. How perfectly manicured can we keep our front lawn so no one notices the cracks in the sidewalk? Social media is the new lawn. And it needs mowed daily or in some cases multiple times a day even when it’s snowing. We never get a break, a season off.  

That’s a lot of pressure. 
That’s a lot of clutter.
That’s a lot of false connection. 
This year I’m taking less pictures, tuning into more genuine moments to connect. I’m sleeping more, eating less junk (delete yesterday), doing the things that make me happy and full like playing too many rounds of Uno while listening to records and explaining to my son why I like this music and how I’m building this collection for him. It feels good. It's like putting on a new pair of glasses with the correct prescription. 
Every time I’m away from my phone, I remember who I am. I see what’s in front of me in that exact moment. 
Speaking of lawns and having more time, here's a book I could not put's about a man who wants everything including his lawn perfect to navigate the deep waters of grief. It reminds me of someone I's a beautiful story for everyone.
And if you love music, try this one:
 Haven't started this one yet, but high hopes here:
Oh, and that second book: The Great Alone. It'll be out this Spring. If you like Alaska and fiction, you'll love this one.
 Happy January. Hope you're appreciating the break and beauty the snow brings.

Wednesday, January 3, 2018

9 Indie Indy Coffee Shops

This year I'm focused on one thing...

The right here and now.

As study on the psychology of the human mind, I'm taking a 30-day breather from social media. First couple of days of detox were hard, but I made it across the bridge and I feel like I have something I've been missing: time to do the things I love like write, read, watch inspirational documentaries, listen to music. I'm also making an effort to pry myself from the office 2-3 times a week and work from a space where I'm inspired like coffee shops. The sound of milk being frothed and conversations flowing freely has always inspired me.

If you live in Indy and like good coffee, this is for you:

9 Downtown(ish) Coffee Shops Ya Gotta Check Out
Coat Check
WINNER. There’s something special here. Located in the Rathskeller constructed in 1922, this place is AWESOME. It’s like a daytime adventure as you walk up the old stairs and are greeted by warm faces completely passionate about their trade. Vibe is that of a college union. Indiana University to be exact. The butterscotch latte drinks like a milkshake so be prepared for that. The Ginger cappuccino will surprise you. Trying to be open minded, but when it comes to atmosphere it’s going to be hard to top this one. 
Bee Coffee Roasters
The first time I walked into this spot and tasted the Shagedelic, I knew there was something special about this coffee. The shagedelic syrup is made from a tree bark sourced from a man in the middle of the woods. How can you not appreciate sipping on that? The Americano is the best I’ve had, any cappuccino is amazing. Without a doubt, this place is in it for the coffee. They aren’t trying to do anything else but coffee. Atmosphere is just ok, but the taste of their blends makes up for it.
Perhaps it’s the ceiling height, maybe the warehouse vibe, but there is a WOW factor when you enter this space. Located off Mass Ave on Fulton Avenue, there’s plenty of parking and plenty of seats. The Spanish Latte is their most popular drink and I see why. A little cinnamon on top goes a long way with the flavor on this. I’m still thinking about it. This place is cool. The baristas are cool. GO.

Calvin Fletchers
The first time we stumbled into this spot in Fletcher Place, it felt like a scene from Fight Club. Based on the window d├ęcor, we were expecting an antique shop. But then, coffee. My friend put it best when she said you can have a suit at one table, a person in slippers at the next and a skateboard commuter nearby. The melting pot of people watching is great.  
Thirsty Scholar
The atmosphere here makes up for the lack of parking. It’s so cool on the inside. Think: antiques, cozy benches with cushions. Located at the corner of 10th and Penn, there isn’t a bad view and this place is full of light. I love driving down Penn in the morning and seeing the faces working in the windows. I truly love the atmosphere here. And one time the barista told me he liked my whole outfit. I still carry that compliment with me. See why that matters? Get the chai tea latte. Here's a picture of my brilliant Seattle friend Stacey on her visit to Indy.

Moe Joe’s
I’ve spent a lot of time here working on projects. There are always good conversations free flowing through this space located off Michigan Avenue. Sometimes I catch bits of awesome connected conversations like a group developing a new business which I definitely would invest in if I was Warren Buffet. Half college bookstore, this place will always have space to sit. People are great, atmosphere is great. This will ALWAYS be a favorite for so many reasons.  
Hubbard & Cravens
Drop by the 49th and Penn location at 4 pm on a week night and it’s bustling. Seems to be a nice mix of Butler students, high school students, professionals. They do live music, but I can’t seem to find a schedule for that. If you like people, want good energy, go here. There’s a table by the window. It’s my favorite.  
Moe & Johnny’s
How can you not love this place? Nights spent cozied up watching Butler blaze through the Sweet 16 to final two TWICE. Most people know Moe & Johnny’s for the bar, but the back half is a quaint cute little coffee shop. They recently renovated which made me a little sad, but overall this spot is a nice place to spend a couple hours working. The server seems to know everyone who walks in.  

Tinker Street
This place reminds me a bit of 20 Tap which is my favorite neighborhood restaurant. It has an old school comfortable bar feeling. One problem: the tables are almost always full due to the size of the space. When the patio is open, you may have a better shot here. I don’t remember the coffee mainly because I was thinking about how I didn’t have a place to sit. I’m sure it was good.
I know, I know. Everyone raves about this spot. It’s cool. Design is awesome, space is accommodating. Drinks are good. I like it, I don’t love it. Is it because it’s new construction? Can’t put my finger on it. Location? Too many man buns? I’m sorry. I want so badly to like it. Maybe I’ll try it again next week. Maybe I’ll like it more. I think I can…