Short work week – Yeah!!

 I am so excited about a short work week. The past two weeks have been exciting and yet tiring. I spent the 6-10th in Chicago for the USGBC’s annual GreenBuild Expo. This is the event that I look forward to each year because there is so much information to gain from the conference sessions and the endless opportunities for networking with other professionals looking to make the building industry more environmentally friendly. At the same time, the widespread interest in LEED and sustainability has caused the conference to grow at a very unexpected rate. I heard the attendance topped out over 22,000 – that is over 4,000 more people than expected! (Last year in Denver there were just under 15,000). The organization level of the conference took a nose dive. Even though I was pre-registered in September, I had to wait 1.5 hours in line to obtain my conference badge – causing me to miss the complimentary breakfast and most of the opening session (which started late). I was happy to get there just in time to see former president Bill Clinton speak on his efforts to make the Earth more “green” and it was interesting, to say the least. As a professional who has kept up with the “green” trends for almost 3 years now, I found some of the sessions a bit elementary for me (though I do understand there are a long number of people who are just getting on the boat). Overall, I had a good time with my coworkers and after the week ended on Friday, I decided to stay an extra day. Here are some pics I took of Navy Pier, where the conference’s big party was held… it was pretty dark and cold so I didn’t put much effort into getting good pics! LOL

Thursday evening I dragged Bobby along to visit my cousin Cheryl and her super-fun family and we ended up having dinner at the Blue Water Grille downtown. The food was amazing and they topped it off with a cute gift back containing a home made apple cinnamon muffin. I enjoyed myself so much that I wrote them an email to let them know. I didn’t take any pics but you can check their website for a virtual tour of the trendy dining area. On Friday I convinced my coworkers to join me for brunch at Yolk. It was a great idea and everyone enjoyed their food! I blogged about this place after my last trip to Chicago – so you can tell I loved it!

That evening Bobby and I met up with my line sisters Micky and Mikyra along with their significant others. We had drinks at Bar Louie, a cool bar with a fun atmosphere on Halsted in the West Loop. The next morning, I was on my way to Minneapolis to get ready for a week of WORK. Since I was gone for so many days, there was lots of it! But there was still a light spot to look forward to – a girls weekend!

Sharifa and I wanted for years to see The Lion King on Broadway and since there is a Minneapolis stop along the national tour, we snatched up a couple of tickets and made a girls weekend out of it. Friday, I left work, we got glammed up and had dinner at Solera before the play. I love the atmosphere in Solera, but the Spanish-style tapas menu is always a little hit or miss for me – usually at a high costs. We ended up ordering a few white sangrias (Solera makes the best sangria in the Twin Cities) and the following tapas (titles copied from the menus): Goat Cheese Fritters with Fennel and Orange-Flower Honey; Piquillo Peppers Stuffed with Herbed Goat’s Milk Cheese; Scallops “a la Plancha” with Serrano Ham and Saffron; Serrano Ham with Rosemary Honey and Manchego; Deviled Eggs with Blue Crab and Cumin; and some dish not listed online that had 4 little slivers of salt cod and some “green stuff”… I have to say that the food we selected was, overall, “just ok”. Dessert was an apple dish for Sharifa and a “dessert tapa” for me – with 5 small desserts nicely arranged on one plate.

After dinner we conveniently went next door to the Orpheum Theatre for the play. IT WAS AMAZING!!! I truly enjoyed it and feel I got my money’s worth. We finished the weekend with a late lunch of sushi at Origami in Ridgedale with my soror Shalaunda – who was celebrating her birthday! We ordered Maguro Ki Hada, Hamachi, Caterpillar, Hime Roll and Hotate. With the influence of Bobby and Sharifa I am slowly getting more adventurous with my sushi choices and I’m finding that I like pretty much everything I try. My favorite was the Caterpillar Maki (avocado, eel and cucumber roll) and the Hitate Nigiri (raw scallop on rice). After finishing the night off with a viewing of the cute and funny Bee Movie, we had drinks and dessert at PF Chang’s and woke up in time to stuff ourselves at Granite City. Summer predicted that a weekend with Sharifa and Cherish is a weekend full of FOOD – and she was right!! I am STUFFED!!!

More on shopping and other fun stuff later. I have work to catch up on! Have a wonderful holiday if I don’t talk to you before then!!!

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