We had such a wonderful day yesterday!  The weather was sunny and in the mid-40’s.  In Oak Park all their snow has melted, so it almost felt like spring was right around the corner.

As I was driving to my sisters office, I went to down a street and saw that the first restaurant job I had changed their name.  Not sure if it’s the same owners or not, but at the age of 16 I was the first bus girl to work at this restaurant when it was called Philander’s.  Now it’s called Barclay’s Grille.

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It was a high end restaurant at the time.  As a bus person it wasn’t unusual for me to walk out with $50 in tips from the servers on a Friday and Saturday night, and this was in the 1980s! 

Chef Chlumsky was the chef and he scared the shit out of me.  His standards were high, he barked orders, and he made everyone taste all the dishes so they could describe them properly.   His daughter was Anna Chlumsky, of My Girl fame with McCauley Culkin.


I was an EXTREMEMLY picky eater back then, and when it got time for Friday afternoons tasting, I looked at all the dishes and thought “there isn’t anything I’d eat.” 

  • seared ahi tuna with a sesame aioli
  • New Orleans shrimp (which I finally tried after working there a year and loved!)
  • oysters on the half shell

It was the oysters that grossed me out the most.  The Chef walked right up to me and said “did you try the oysters!”  When I said no, he walked over, got an Olympian oyster (which is about the size of a nickel) and forced me to eat it.  I thought I was going to throw up!  To this day I’ve never tried another one, although Tony loves them!  But working in this restaurant was one of the best working experiences I had, and I continued working in restaurants and bars well into my 20’s as a side job.

Hannah took the L in from Chicago, my Mom finished bowling and we picked my sister up and went to Flat Top Grill.  It’s a build your own stir-fry, and it was delicious. 

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You fill your dish with the veggies you want, pick out your sauce and meat of choice and then hand it to the cook at the front of the restaurant, who naturally cooks your dish on a flat top grill.

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I did a mix of kung pao sauce and a spicy Indian curry and it was delicious.  I went back for a second bowl, but tried the tofu horseradish sauce, and it was gross. I was happy though, because if I had just slowed down, my mind would have gotten the message that I was full from dish #1. Open-mouthed smile

We dropped Jenn back off at work – we all decided next time we do this that she take the afternoon off so she could have joined us!  I had to show this picture – one of my sisters co-workers is 7 feet tall!  He towers over my Mom!

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We went next door to my sisters office to a consignment shop.  Hannah loves her high heels!

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We went to a couple antique stores in Forest Park, then headed to Goodwill.  We bid farewell to Mom, and then Hannah and I headed to another thrift store in Oak Park called the Brown Elephant.  My score of the day?  This Circulon square pan – it normally retails for $60 and I got it for $2!  It doesn’t even look like its been used! Although who knows if Tony will use it – he probably thinks someone peed on it before they donated it.

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Hannah and I ended the afternoon at Buzz Café, with sugar free vanilla lattes and a couple treats – I got a cranberry apricot scone, and Hannah got a cookie.

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We had such a fun day hanging out, laughing of course, and walking around a lot.  Thanks ladies for a great day!

Happy Valentine’s Day!  Do you celebrate the day?  Tony and I are staying in, grilling up a steak with fresh rosemary and saving a hundred dollars by not going out to eat tonight! Open-mouthed smile

I didn’t put anything together last night, so I have exactly 20 minutes to put food together for me, both my bosses and get dressed and out the door – and GO!

Make it a great day!