Tag Archives: wine

Rainy Day in the Windy City

photo-1 It’s never good to see tons of yellow on airports’ departure/arrival monitors. Last week in Chicago it was a really bad sign. Major rain and lightning hit Chicago area, causing hundreds of flights to be cancelled, or delayed by several hours. And after all the flight delays were not that big of a deal – compared to locals who had to deal with some serious flooding on days to come.
After sitting at O’Hare for good 6-7 hours it became obvious that we didn’t have any hope to make it back to Anchorage on time at all. After flight hunting with always wonderful United staff, it turned out that our next chance to fly out was two days later. Two more nights in Chicago. While I had tons of meetings to cancel and reschedule, I was grateful for being stuck in somewhere nice (Chicago is my favorite city, or one of them), not in the middle of nowhere in freezing cold Alaska.

Since I got an unexpected evening off in Chicago and my hair looked as dull as rainy day in the Windy City, I did a quick search on Vogue and Allure magazines for trustworthy, professional hair salon. And I hit the jackpot! I was able to get my  bayalage highlights done at one of the city’s top hair places,  Mixed Co. Salon . For years I have been religiously flying to Gene Juarez in Seattle for my hair appointments but I might have found a new hair heaven…

In addition to the hair adventures, we were lucky to visit my favorite museum (after Louvre in Paris) – The Art Institute . In general, I love art and galleries, and every time I have a chance to stop by at one, I gladly use the opportunity. The Art Institute didn’t fail this time either: I could spend hours and hours looking at Monet and Degas’ paintings…. And I absolutely love Caillabotte’s Paris Street; Rainy Day . What a disappointment that it was not on display last week! There is something fascinating and oh-so-romantic in rain and Paris – whether in real life or in painting.

There is also a special exhibition of  Picasso and Chicago  at The Art Institute, featuring Picasso’s diverse work through decades. Although I am not a huge fan of him, I greatly enjoyed the exhibition, and learned quite a bit more about his art, and life. This exhibition is up until May 12 – in case you are in Chicago area and interested in Cubist movement and his art.


And city life is nothing without some good shopping and eating…. although I am not a mega shopper, athletic stuff is my huge weakness. If Alaska was a bit more formal or sophisticated, I would be obviously shopping professional outfits more often but the down-to-earth Alaska style has completely ruined my sense of style. If I ever had it…? However, downtown  Lululemon  had a good customer once, and I came home with new Lulu sports bags and water bottles. The husband with me, I couldn’t really justify getting more Lulu outfits.

Since we both enjoy culinary experiences, quality vintage wines and are frequent visitors in Chicago, we have visited most of the upscale downtown restaurants. And always end up returning to Cut Steakhouse . However, on the rainy night we decided to visit one of Chicago’s private clubs, and ate at  Union League Club . What a gorgeous building, great atmosphere and delicious food they had! And the wine list met our expectations. The great ending for our dinner was the tea selection: Darjeeling always makes me happy. Whether I enjoy it here on the new continent, or at Dorchester hotel’s afternoon tea in London.



The new foodie finding was our breakfast spot:  Wildberry Pancakes and Cafe  just a couple of blocks north of the Art Institute. Hotel breakfasts get old real quick, and are always more or less the same. If time allows, I try to spot local breakfast restaurants in the cities I am…. Wildberry Pancakes was a great finding. If you love pancakes and berries,  Signature Berry Bliss Pancakes are heavenly but be warned,the portion is huge.



New Year’s Resolution for 2012

First day of 2012. New year, expectations, hopes, wishes, and goals. While 2011 was such a wonderful year, I look forward to 2012 being even more awesome. Only time will tell how the year turns out to be but meanwhile, there are some goals that I have set for the new year.

Resolution 1: Live, love and laugh often. Be happy. Be a wonderful wife. I am committed to do whatever I can to be as good wife as I can be to my wonderful husband. He truly deserves it.

Resolution 2: Travel more, and stay adventurous. We both love the see the world and enjoy traveling. While I doubt I can exceed my records of flying over 200,000 miles a year now when living in Alaska, I am hoping to get close to it.

Resolution 3: Finish a full Ironman race. 140.6 miles of pure torture  fun, and I can’t wait to grab the challenge! This goal is just a continuation of my never-ending fitness challenges, and fueled by the desire to improve myself day after day.

Resolution 4: Continue working on Fine Art gallery, and develop the artistic skills in photography. Some exciting projects are in the horizon, so stay tuned by following KominiakPhoto’s Blog .

Resolution 5: Dedicate some time for crafts such as knitting, and try to learn some crocheting – beyond a couple of crocheted flowers.

Resolution 6: Continue excelling at studies, and keep working hard in order to get into a PhD program in biology. This will mean a bunch of biology, chemistry and math in my future. As well as completing my senior thesis with the highest grades.

And last but not the least….

Resolution 7:  Be a better blogger. I need to catch up on the book and wine reviews, as well as update KominiakPhoto’s Blog more often.

“Each new day is a blank page in the diary of your life. The secret of success is in turning that diary into the best story you possibly can.” –Douglas Pagels

I wish you Happy New Year and diary full of best stories ever written in your life!


Pizza With No Cheese, Please

The greatest wealth is health. ~Virgil

Eating out, and eating healthy is often a challenge. Especially here in Alaska. And even more so in Fairbanks. I am not even going to start to tell about my dining experiences in Fairbanks where I have been using a napkin to dry off the extra cooking oil from my veggie omelet.

Yes, I admit, I am a health nut who pays attention to quality of food. And apparently my taste is slightly different from most people. I don’t like french fries, excessive amounts of cheese make me lose my appetite, deep fried food gets no-thanks from me, I eat my salads dry, or with a couple of drops of dressing. Someone would call me picky. But on the other hand, I do enjoy a glass or two of good wine, happily have my (Starbucks) coffee, and occasionally even taste a piece of chocolate although I don’t really like it a whole lot. So I like to believe that I am still a human too. After all.

Over a past few weeks I have had interesting dining experiences in Anchorage area. First we went to a local pizza restaurant where I ordered a veggie pizza, very light on feta cheese only. And got three different kinds of cheeses. The restaurant did the same cheese mistake three times – after that I gave up, and just picked the cheese out of a couple of slices that I ate.

Next time I went to IHOP, and wanted an egg white veggie omelet with no cheese. Guess what I got? An omelet with cheese! And of course I waited until boredom to get the waiter’s attention, and was able to request a new omelet. Another small, local breakfast restaurant advertises itself kinda health-conscious place. And again, my omelet came with cheese when I specifically requested it without.

Lastly, this weekend, Jason and I had lunch in Anchorage downtown. After staring at the menu for quite some time, I decided that chicken burrito without cheese and on corn tortilla would be a good choice. Did I get it? Nope. Didn’t even get the cheese. This time the waiter kindly came to tell me that they can’t make the burrito without cheese. So I stare at the menu again, and decided to go with fish tacos, no cheese but with corn tortillas. I got the fish but with flour tortilla. At that point I was tired and hungry, and decided to eat some of it.

This all made me think why eating healthy is so difficult? Shouldn’t the unhealthy items be the ones to ask for? Why are the french fries the standard side with most foods? And having a side salad may even cost extra. I would be happy to see cheese or fries as items to ask for, and healthier options to be defaults.

Sometimes I think it would be a great idea to have higher taxes on fatty foods… especially when I check out the restaurants’ nutrition information. A dinner at Cheesecake Factory could look like this:

Appetizer: Caesar salad: 860 calories
Main course: Fettucini with chicken and sun-dried tomatoes: 1,830 calories
Dessert: half of a lemon raspberry cheesecake: 365 calories

This equals to over 3,000 calories, without beverages. And it is only one big dinner. A 30-year old woman who is 5’6″ tall and weighs 150lbs, needs about 2,000 calories to maintain the weight. And after the Cheesecake Factory dinner we are looking at about 1,000 extra calories. For a person this size, it takes about 90 minutes to lose 1,000 calories is she runs 10 mins/mile pace. Or 75 minutes of biking, at 15-20 mph. Trust me, it’s a sweaty exercise to run 9 miles in hour and half – four miles more and you have done a half marathon, and at a very good time…

With all my daily workouts, I consume that extra 1,000+ calories on daily basis, and actually eat worth 3,000 calories, sometimes even more. But do I want to eat food worth my whole day at one sitting? Absolutely not! I like food – so much that I rather eat 4-5 times a day. Nowadays news are full of stories about people being obese and having related health problems. It is not a no-brainer to figure out why that is the case. If a person doesn’t have a medical condition that leads to difficulties to lose weight, or makes a person prone to gain weight, the math is simple – if a person eats more than consumes, the extra energy is stored somewhere.

I so wish restaurants would serve healthier food. Meanwhile, my pizza and omelets are ordered without cheese.

MilSpouse Friday Fill-In #44

Hello Friday, and hello weekend! I have so missed you. What a long week again… However, before jumping into the weekend, it’s time for regular Friday activity -  Military Spouse Friday Fill-In , thanks to the wonderful  Wife of A Sailor .

1. When you vacation what type of vacation do you like to take (beach, historic, adventurous, food oriented, etc.)? (submitted by  Megan Dub-Yuh ) While all these sound tempting, my first choice would be adventurous, although historic sounds great too. Maybe Indiana Jones type of vacations – adventures with the history would be the best?! I also love wineries, so occasional gourmet trips are on my go-list as well.

2. What is your best memory associated with a song (you know we all have tons!) (submitted by  Ramblings of a Marine Wife ) The Final Countdown in a Japanese karaoke bar brings some awesome memories about my wonderful colleagues, and how much fun we had when traveling all over the world for meetings. Also, I will Survive by Gloria Gaynor brings some pretty cool memories – I was doing my second triathlon race ever, and started the swim a bit too hard but as a bike nut, I didn’t even think about slowing down but pushed as hard as I could. Did I think that I still had to run too? Nope, I didn’t. The run was a pain – everywhere. The only thing I remember about the last mile of the race is this song. I have no clue how I made it but finished on the 3rd place.

3. If you had six months with no obligations or financial constraints, what would you do with your time? (submitted by  Married to the Army ) I would be either finishing up my degree, or traveling & working on my photography projects. Most probably the latter.

4. What is one thing about you that people do NOT typically notice at first that you wish they would? (submitted by  Our Motto is Patience ) Hmm, I am pretty easy to read, I think. Maybe some people think that I am slightly distant though but it is usually because most of the time I am terribly busy, and have to schedule nearly everything.

5. …. submitted by  The Three Turners It’s a summer of sequels, and if you had to live in one of each of the following “worlds” (there are three total) which would you choose and why?

  • X-Men: Be a Mutant, what would your power be?
  • Harry Potter: Be a Witch or Muggle?
  • Twilight: Be a Vampire or Werewolf?

Hmm, do the witches have special powers? I think I’d be a witch in Harry Potter –  could fly on a broom. Sounds like fun to me!

Stress Over Everything

This must be one of those weeks when there are a million things happening at the same time, and scheduling doesn’t work out at all – I am mainly referring to my upcoming university class schedules. I need to complete some classes sooner rather than later but I just do not have a clue how to fit them into my day. Or meet the attendance requirements. Uh-oh. All the ideas are more than welcome. Meanwhile, I am gonna take a deep breath and have a glass of red wine.
Another source of the stress is the wedding reception…. everything should be perfect but how to make it perfect? I can definitely understand people who just run away, marry in Las Vegas and call it good.

Anyways that’s about ranting for now. Meanwhile, I am asking your assistance, dear friends. As a part of my Social Psychology class I need to ask about definitions of evil from at least 5 people. There are two simple questions, and I’d highly appreciate your help in the form of answering these. If you feel comfortable, feel free to type your thoughts as comments, or you can always send them by email – just click HERE . All the answers will naturally be anonymous in the summary.

And finally, the questions are below:

1. How do you define the word ‘evil’?

2. What are three examples (either contemporary or historical) of individuals, groups, or actions that you consider to be evil?