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After 6 months in Central and South America, I flew back home to Chicago. It was nice to be back for a bit, though, really, most of my days were spent doing absolutely nothing and every night was spent sleeping on a couch. But it was nice, and I did do a few things...

KIDS Restaurant is a restaurant on the outskirts of Antigua staffed almost entirely by children. The kids shop for food, cook, serve, and entertain. In Americaland we'd probably call it a sweatshop. But here, it's called a charity. Kidding aside, it's actually a wonderful project. Kids are brought in to learn and practice English, social skills, and business. Our little server was shy and quiet, but he was adorable. Our French-themed 3-course meal included onion soup, orange-glazed chicken, and a crepe. Plus we got to witness a fake wedding and a little bit of break dancing....

Heather turned 31, and she wanted a Chicago-style birthday party. The original plan was to go ice skating. But it was too cold for that. So we went to Margie's for ice cream instead. Because it is never too cold for ice cream. And then we went to Billy Goat for dinner, and we ate cheeseborgers and chips and drank beer and horny goats. Afterwards Heather and Jeremy went to a show at Second City, but I was a totally lame roommate because tickets had already sold out by the time I went to buy one. Totally lame. ...

When a friend reads the description of the art show she's going to and it includes "all your favorite animals will be represented" and "you enter through the Chinese restaurant," you go. No question. When it's already 9pm and you haven't eaten dinner, you still wait in line to get into Big Star before waiting inside to finally get a table. And then you drink too many whiskey drinks and then you eat too many pork belly and fish tacos. But it doesn't matter when it's all so delicious. No question....

Gnocchi are little magical puffs of Italian goodness. True story. I mean, why would anyone in their right mind ever choose regular old pasta, which is just basically flour when they could have pasta made with potato? Or cheese? Quite possibly two of the most amazing things ever invented? Am I right? I can't tell you the first time I ever ate gnocchi, but I can tell you I eat it often. I ate it at least twice while admiring the canals of Venice(I tried to confirm this by going through my photos, but can you believe that on my first trip to...

I am thankful that I somehow managed to cook the best and most beautiful turkey I've ever cooked (I made everyone come into the kitchen and stare at it before I hacked it up. I can cook, I can't carve). I am thankful that I was able to make Thanksgiving dinner for my family. I am thankful that we are able to carry on traditions. I am thankful that I was able to get it all done (almost) on time (despite the fact that I went into the day with zero game plan, my dad would have had the whole schedule tacked to...

Despite the fact that I just spent eleven months in Asia, I ordered Chinese food on my second day back. Because I'd spent the day at the ER and could hardly move and it was my best choice for delivery in suburbia. And because it is delicious....

My new nephew and godson, Colin, was born last August while I was in Barcelona. Which means that, when I finally met him, he was fourteen months old. Fourteen months old. I guess, to him, it didn't really matter, because he's at the age where he won't remember anything that was up over the past year anyways. And when we went out to dinner last week I was just another face who brought him a toy. But, to me, it's a little hard. Because I'm not sure if I ever will have children of my own. My nephews are all I...