Jewel’s not the only one with the 10 for $10 deal!
Time for a Luau
When Dallas and I lived in Roscoe Village there were two supermarkets across the street from each other on Western at Roscoe: Dominick’s and Jewel. No one went to the Dominick’s because it was so old and dumpy. The Jewel was the clear winner in this contest. When we moved to Logan Square, we still went to the Jewel often, since it was still close.
Fast forward to the fall of 2011. The Dominick’s had closed and a new supermarket was set to open. The anticipation was palpable. And Jewel was kind of scared. They redid their parking lot, they fancied up the store by adding things like an olive bar. They rearranged everything, which was frustrating after years of the same layout.
Mariano’s Fresh Market, the new supermarket, opened with much fanfare. Everyone I knew was going to check it out. Hey, kids, this is how you know you’re old. All of your friends are talking about the new supermarket! Much of the packaged food, refrigerator, and freezer sections are the same as you would find in a Jewel or Dominick’s. But the stars of the market are the bakery, cheese, deli, liquor, and prepared food areas. The produce is good as well. It reminds me of a hybrid between something like Whole Foods and Jewel. With pretty reasonable prices. And the many free samples you’d find at a more high-end store.
Everything in Mariano’s is so bright and new. I get bored really fast with going to the same supermarket over and over and I found Mariano’s to be really refreshing. It has quickly become our favored place to grocery shop.
The store brand at Mariano’s is Roundy’s, which is based out of Milwaukee. I’m familiar with this brand because it is the store brand at some of the supermarkets in Wisconsin that I used to shop at. I’ve been getting the discounted Roundy’s products a lot at Mariano’s and have been happy with them all so far.
Everyone I’ve talked to so far aside from 2 people (Loden! Guy at work!) have all had good things to say about Mariano’s. I ran into a different coworker in the parking lot one day and he lives clear across town. Is it becoming a destination? Maybe he was just checking it out to see.. Another day I was in the kitchen in my office and someone commented on my Mariano’s bag in the fridge, which held my lunch. This coworker lives in Roscoe Village and was saying how much he loved the new supermarket.
The live piano player is a little over the top and unnecessary, but he’s positioned in spot that is out of the way, so live piano music? Ok, I’ll listen to it. It’s not hurting anything. Also, the areas I listed above as being the standouts of the store: cheese, deli, bakery, prepared foods, can get packed sometimes, but so far it’s been worth it. Dallas went to Mariano’s one weekday to avoid crowds and guess what? It was packed. Seems the Lane Tech students are now going to Mariano’s on their breaks to eat the sandwiches, pizza, sushi and salad bar food that is available.
If I could change one thing about the store it would be the parking lot. It’s horrible. The parking spots are not at an angle and they’re very tight. You can’t pull in without backing up and pulling in again to get the right angle. Also, the cart return areas are not always convenient, forcing you to walk clear up and back down aisles to return carts. Sometimes it’s easier just to take them back up to the store. Which is frustrating, especially for those cars who are waiting to take your parking spot.
Overall, though, we’re happy with this new store. I still go to the Jewel sometimes. It’s empty now, so it’s easy to run in and out. I wonder if there are die-hard Jewel shoppers over there. I can guarantee there weren’t that many die-hard Dominick’s at the old store. That Jewel has not has any real competition in Roscoe Village for years!
On Friday my office moved to Randolph east of Michigan and there’s a Mariano’s in the building next to the building we’re moving to. Maybe I’ll turn into one of those Lane Tech Students and start taking my lunch in the Mariano’s prepared food stations!
Last weekend was my 3rd annual visit to Miller Park to see the Cubs take on the Brewers. Sara, Kristin and Cousin met me at my house for the drive up to Milwaukee. Alden was at his parent’s house in the Milwaukee suburbs and was going to meet us at the game. Except, when I went out to the garage to leave, this is what I found:
Ok. Plan B. Kristin drove to my house so we took her car to my brother’s house. Then we switched cars because his fit all of us in it and he had a premium parking pass.
Note to self: Don’t place the jalapeno poppers on the grill this way. We lost a few!
My brother also bought and prepared all of our tailgating stuff and we threw in money on it. I was expecting a few brews, a few sausages, some cheese curds… but he went all out! We had fresh, homemade guacamole, brats, Italian sausages, some jalepeno poppers, three kinds of cheese curds, a ton of chips and all the condiments. We had not only one, but TWO grills! Also, not one but TWO kinds of cookies. I made a chocolate mint one and some snickerdoodles.
Also, my brother didn’t just grab a case of Miller Lite and call it a day. He brought so many different Wisconsin microbrews. I took photos of some of them. I think there were a few more that I didn’t get. A Leinies one for sure, but I can’t remember which. These are the ones I know for sure:
We mixed the Sand Creek Hard Lemonade together with the New Glarus Belgian Red and it was so delicious. It tasted like a tart juice.
Richard, Rachelle, Danny
Danny and Caroline were tailgating nearby with Caroline’s parents and they came over to visit for a while. I meant to go visit their tailgate but got caught up in our stuff. Sorry!
Sara & Alden. Check out all the Cubs fans!
The weather was perfect. A little windy, but sunny and very comfortable. My brother brought his urban horseshoes/washers game and we played that for a bit. Somebody (not me) managed to toss a washer down the sewer, but otherwise it was a fun game. I guess a sewer hazard is appropriate for urban horseshoes. Sara had never tailgated before and had never played urban horseshoes and had never been to Miller Park, so it was fun to show her the ropes!
AAA to the rescue!
After two games of urban horseshoes it was time to head in for the baseball game. We packed everything into the car and my brother was going to roll the window up… well, I mean press the button that puts the window up. Time for car problem #2! His battery was dead and we couldn’t put the window up. We tried to have the guy next to us jump our car (note to Alden’s mom, he didn’t jump ON our car), but it didn’t work. We tracked down the free AAA service at Miller Park and somehow the guy got our car started. We then had to run it between 10-20 minutes to make sure it would start later on when we wanted to leave. We ended up missing 2 innings of the game, but at least we got it sorted out.
On the walk to the stadium, we found this file folder on the ground. For some reason it was HILARIOUS. Someone had made this folder, slipped in their tickets, and filed it somewhere up until VERY recently. The 7 almost looks like a 9. Very dangerously close to going on the wrong day! We made up a lot of stories about this folder before throwing it back on the ground.
Ok. Inside the park, finally, we were headed for our seats when we ran into these degenerates:
Lycke, Trent, Biefel
And I mean degenerate! They had been drinking since about noon (it was a 6pm start for the game) and it showed! I ran into them a couple times, actually. They didn’t have seats even. Just standing room tickets.
Miller Park at Sunset
Miller Park Scoreboard
Sara had a hankering for some ballpark nachos so we asked a lady where she got hers and scoped it out. They were no ordinary ballpark nachos, though. They were piled high with meat and peppers and everything. We picked up a couple Lites and a couple Leinies Honey Weiss while we were up. Actually, that was the only beer I had all game. One beer, because I thought I was driving back to Chicago.
Miller Park Sausage Race
Miller Park Sausage Race
It was a gorgeous night in the ballpark. I brought a light long sleeved shirt but I didn’t even wear it. During the 6th inning, the sausage came running out right in front of us.
Miller Park Sausage Race
I cheered for chorizo like always, and Sara cheered for chorizo as well. Too bad he got spanked! Polish sausage smoked everyone!
Take Me Out To The Ball Game, Roll Out The Barrel
During the 7th inning stretch they played Take Me Out To the Ball Game, but the people who’d never been to a ballpark in Wisconsin were surprised with the Roll Out the Barrel follow-up song!
A few notes on the players:
1. I really wish the player called Corey Hart would play Sunglasses at Night for his at-bat song.
2. Alfonso Soriano was fielding right in front of us and gave Sara a nod when she was screaming “FOOOONNNNZIIIIEEEEE GO FOOONZIIIIIIIIEEEE!!!!” I don’t know much about Soriano, only that he wears the tightest pants in the MLB.
Miller Park Scoreboard
3. I love the scoreboard at Miller Park, which is new this year. It shows a huge photo of each player when they’re at bat and shows the stats so far for each player. Sara taught me what Strikeout Looking is when a guy’s stats said at one at bat he struck out swinging and at another turn he struck out looking. She definitely knows a lot more about baseball and the Cubs than I do, but the big board definitely helped me keep track of what was going on and helped me get to know the players better.
The Wrigley Field Road Tour
In the stadium there must have been a hundred(s?) of people wearing this same red tshirt. They’d biked to Miller Park from Wrigley Field in Chicago for The Wrigley Field Road Tour. I think I’d have been sleeping in the stands if I’d done that.
In the end, the Cubs lost 4-6. They made a rally in the 8th inning when they made 3 runs, but it wasn’t enough. The Brewers actually swept the Cubs in the series. But that’s ok. We all still had a great time.
Miller Park at Night
After the game I had to go to the bathroom so I said I’d just meet people at the car. I didn’t even make it to the car when I found that everyone I was with had made new friends and was drinking all their beer. After the game is pretty much like another big tailgate. We’d run out of beer, so how convenient that these fans were willing to share. They didn’t want to share with the Cubs fans, but they were convinced when I broke out the extra cookies I’d baked. Also, they liked that Alden and I were from Wisconsin. Also, we met a couple from Milwaukee whose daughter lives a few blocks from Alden in Chicago. Alden asked if the guy would put in the good word with his daughter, but the guy said the daughter was getting married in a matter of weeks. He said he’d let Alden know in October if it didn’t work out. He also asked that Alden please refrain from stalking his daughter now that her location had been revealed!
Sobriety isn’t an accident, but getting drunk many times is!
I drove the car back to my brother’s because he’d had a few too many. On the way Alden was texting his mom and she invited us over for more drinks, but I vetoed that plan. My brother and cousin and Alden were all for it. Of course, because they were the drunkest ones! My brother was busy typing Alden’s parent’s address into the GPS and when it was shouting out instructions it was so confusing to get back to my brother’s place! It would have been fun to visit the Almagro family, but it was getting late, especially since we still had to drive to Chicago. At my brother’s house we all made a pit stop. Alden had a special moment with Milo, the dog, and then we were off to Chicago. I thought I’d be driving but Kristin insisted. We all knocked pretty hard on wood and it worked because that car made it home without incident. I think we got home at about midnight? Long night, but so fun! Thanks to all my friends for making it a fun day and special thanks to my brother for organizing the tailgate and getting the tickets for us! A new set of washers in IN THE MAIL!!!
So, back to that Jeep thing. On my drive to Milwaukee for the UPAF Ride for the Arts, the dash started dinging and lit up saying “check gauges.” I looked at all the gauges and noticed that the temperature gauge was all the way to the right, indicating as hot as it can be. I pulled over at the next exit that I could and pulled into a parking lot in an office park. As soon as I stopped the car smoke came billowing out of the hood area. I got out of the Jeep and looked down. Green fluid was flowing out. Lots of it. My parents were already at my brother’s house when I called up there and so my dad and my brother agreed to come down. I checked Google Maps on my phone and saw that there was an auto parts store nearby. I called them and they were open til 10 p.m. My hope was that my dad would come down, realize it was a hose or something easy, go to the parts store and fix it and we’d be on our way.
So, I camped out in the parking lot of this building.
And waited for my dad and my brother to drive down from Milwaukee. I realized that I wasn’t even out of the city of Chicago! I was at Cicero and Peterson, quite a ways north and west in the city, but still, in the city. So, I realized it would take them a while to come down. Luckily, I was not alone. I had this to keep me company:
I was bringing these Half Acre beers for my dad and my brother to try. They were still ice-cold and it was in the high 70s that evening, so I cracked one open and waited.
Then after a while I oriented myself using the web browser and maps on my phone. I realized I was right next to a Whole Foods, so I walked over to the store and killed some time there.
When my dad and brother arrived they took a look at the car. We realized that the leak was not in a hose, but was actually a leak from the radiator. I needed a tow. Well, little did we know that it would be SO HARD to get a tow. Some said they couldn’t get to me for hours, some said they’d call me back and didn’t, some said they were closed (!?), some didn’t answer their phone, some said they didn’t have a flatbed tow truck, which a few told me I needed. I was basically just going down lists of tow companies on Yelp and Google just trying to get anyone to come out.
Finally, I called a guy who said he didn’t have a flatbed but knew someone who did. I was rolling my eyes at this. I’d heard it before that night and it didn’t pan out, but when he gave me the number I called it and a guy said they could come out within 20 minutes and he actually did. I got my tow! For future reference, this was S&M Towing. They were great to work with did what they said, charged what they estimated, right to the dollar. Nothing shady. Also for future reference, the tow was $85 to hook up the car and $3.50 (I think) per mile after that. It came to about $103. Also, while we were waiting for the tow truck to arrive, I ran into that Whole Foods and bought us all slices of pizza and drinks. It was getting late, I’d been sitting in a hot parking lot forever, and we needed to eat.
My dad rode in the tow truck and chatted it up with the driver. My brother and I followed in my brother’s truck. We towed the Jeep to our regular service station, Nal’s. Dallas’s uncles are good friends with the owner, Al. Dallas has golfed with him before and stuff, but I’ve never met him. I should mention I also spent about a half hour or more calling all of Dallas’s uncles and Dallas, who was in Las Vegas, trying to get Al’s number and find out if I could tow to his shop and leave it. By then the shop was closed so I couldn’t ask them. Anyway, long story short, no one was answering their phone on a Saturday night. We ended up leaving the Jeep on a residential street just south of the shop, where there was no parking restrictions.
After leaving the Jeep, my dad and brother and I drove up to my brother’s house. We pulled in at about 11 p.m., about 5 hours later than I’d planned to arrive. By the time we went to bed it was almost midnight. So, yeh. Late night. And we had to get up at 6 a.m. to get ready for the bike ride! But it all worked out..
When Dallas got back from Las Vegas he brought the keys up to the shop and worked everything out with them. The repairs will end up costing a lot more than I’d have liked – about $600. Stinks! But hopefully nothing will go wrong again and we can stretch out the life of this car. It’s old, but still generally runs good. And $600 is less than a new car. If the Jeep keeps acting up, though, we may have to think about doing a trade in.
As I mentioned before, last weekend my brother, my dad and I did UPAF’s Ride for the Arts. One of the largest one-day recreational bike rides in the United States, UPAF’s Ride for the Arts has raised more than $7 million for the United Performing Arts Fund (UPAF), which helps fund 34 performing arts groups throughout Southeast Wisconsin. So a big “thanks!” to everyone who sponsored us. We were able to raise over $100. And if you meant to sponsor us, but didn’t, you still can here.
UPAF Ride for the Arts start line.
Dad & Richard at the start.
Richard and Rachelle at the start.
We selected to do the 25-mile ride. There are also 5, 12, 50 and 75-mile bike routes. I think if it were up to my dad he’d go for the 75! But no way for Richard and I! Since the ride starts early Sunday morning, I drove down on Saturday night. Well, I attempted to. My car broke down on the way there, but that’s another story! On Saturday it was in the 80s or 90s and I was kind of scared for Sunday, but it really cooled down. Dad was complaining he was cold, even!
We got up early on Sunday, after only about 6 hours of sleep (See the part above about my car breaking down. Long story!) and just ate something very light. The grounds of Summerfest were the starting point, so we loaded the bikes onto my brother’s bike carrier thing-a-ma-jigy for the car and headed up. On the way there we stopped for air for the bike tires. I didn’t realize that my tires were very under inflated. When we got there, I took my bike off the rack and it tried it out. It felt so nice riding with inflated tires! haha.
The photos above are of us at the start line. There was a bit of confusion at the start of the race. Where to line up, which way to face. It ended up starting 20 minutes late. We didn’t know why at the time, but afterwards I read this article and found out that they were doing last-minute patches on the bridge route (see below). One thing that I did not mind is that in the confusion we totally missed all of the speeches by the big wigs welcoming us and what not. Let’s just go! Although last year I did like it when they announced we’d all be getting free hotdogs!
Dad on the Hoan Bridge
Don’t know why my brother is doing this.
This year there were two 25-mile routes. One went over the Hoan Bridge and one that stayed at ground level and went through the Historic Third Ward. Since we went through the Third Ward last year, we opted for the Hoan Bridge this year. Plus, who knows if they’ll ever cut off traffic and offer that option again! This was the first legal opportunity to ride on the bridge in nearly 30 years. This was our route.
The first rest stop, ahem “oasis,” is at mile 5 at a church in St. Francis. Last year there was play acting for entertainment. This year was drumming. I liked the drumming better. We got refueled on fruit and granola and water and were back on the road.
Riding on from the first oasis.
Dad at the second oasis.
Dad and Richard at the second oasis.
Big bike at the second oasis.
The next oasis didn’t come until the halfway point, down in Grant Park. There was a guy there with a big, old fashioned bike. I called BS on him riding it all the way through the ride. I thought he was just showing it off at the oasis… but just after we finished the ride we saw him pull in past the finish line!
They stole our matching costume idea!
Richard and my dad.
Belly dancers at the last oasis.
Riding back up towards Milwaukee.. the last oasis was at about mile 20 or 21 and was at the Coast Guard post. There were belly dancers for entertainment here.
At the finish line!
At the finish line. I was feeling pretty good. I was only winded a couple times on the ride and only for a few minutes. I was tired, but I felt a lot better than I did last year.
Free hotdogs and “cheese”
So, at the Summerfest grounds, on to the reward! We got ice-cold Miller beer. Always tastes like the best beer you ever had. There were also a ton of free Sun Chips, Kangaroo pita chips, Rold Gold pretzels, and granola bars. Like last year, we were also promised free hotdogs courtesy of Gahn Meat. We got our pathetic hot dogs and they were ok. Not the best, but hit the spot after the ride. This year we were also promised free cheese. Well, it turned out to be a pack of pretzel or cracker sticks with some processed cheese dip. Kind of a bummer. And ironic, since Sargento is always now advertising how they make such exceptional cheeses, not processed, with high-quality ingredients.
Since 1981, over a quarter of a million people have participated in the UPAF’s Ride for the Arts and it is considered to be one of the nation’s largest one-day recreational bike rides. This year is the 31st year of the event, which has generated $7 million for the UPAF. The money is used to help UPAF’s member groups produce over 2,000 live performances of music, dance, theater and opera each year. When you support the arts, you’re helping your local economy, improving education, and strengthening outreach programs to the disabled and elderly – all while adding culture to your own life.
Last year the ride was not easy, but very do-able. I thought I’d be dying and sore the next day, but I surprisingly was not. Sure, the day of there were lots of aches and pains, but they did not last. And since Miller Lite sponsors The Ride, the finish line party on the Summerfest Grounds is really fun. Last year there were bands playing and it was a total celebration. I’m not going to lie, the I only made it through the last few miles of the bike ride because I was thinking of ice-cold Miller Lite. Honestly, it was the best beer I ever tasted. Last year there was also one sponsor who donated 5,000 hotdogs to the event, so everyone got a free hotdog on completion. Looking forward to the ride this year and to helping support UPAF’s great cause.
Please consider sponsoring my family on our ride. To do so, click here.