Va bene. Amo Tarrantino’s.

Johnny TIt’s my favorite Restaurant in Chicago. Great Food. Great Ambiance.

But the best thing on the menu is owner Johnny Tarrantino.

JT was one of the first friends I made here when I moved to the Windy City in 1993.

At that time he owned Jim and Johnny’s. Today his small Italian Eatery on Armitage attracts many loyal patrons because they know the meals are good and the price is right. Johnny caters to his customers and whenever I ask for  a change on the menu I get it. It’s become a regular routine for me and my family. Johnny remembers the wine we like, the food we like, and always joins us for great conversation. Johnny has given me great advice over the years and his love forJohnny T2 friends and family is inspiring. I remember meeting Johnny’s mother for the first time and hearing about the family recipes that had become part of the menu. Johnny is all about tradition and his Italian Roots. I have a deep affection for Italy and it’s yummy cuisine after living in Florence my sophmore year of College. I’ve been back several times and always enjoyed the people and their culture. Every time I go to Tarrantino’s it’s a pleasant reminder. My favorite dishes, the hearts of palm salad, the fish special with spinach sauted in olive oil, and well all the deserts even though they are not on the diet plan.

Kicking Cancer’s Ass

Dena MendesOne of my passions in life is health and wellness. I believe we only have one shot in this world, one body, so make it a good and healthy one. So let’s all try our best to motivate each other to eat right and exercise and embrace prevention. One person who has taught me the value of good health and inspired me to invest in myself is Dena Mendes.

I call her my health guru. I met Dena a year ago. She is a three time Cancer Survivor and creator of Denashealthyu.com. Dena entered my life at a time when I thought I ate right and managed a pretty intense exercise routine. But I did not feel optimal health.

I learned, my program was all wrong. And believe me I have tried many regimens and work outs. The truth , I had digestive issues, had plateaued in weight loss, and had lost some of my endurance.
Dena Mendes 2
Dena took one look at me and in minutes was able to see my problems, obstacles and come up with a new plan that meant changing my attitude about food  and life. She took me off wheat and gluten products and opened my eyes to choices that were more beneficial. I said goodbye to Dairy, Caffeine (and I love Coffee-just ask anyone), and that horrible little vice SUGAR. While that may sound drastic, going through the food aisle of Whole Foods became a new adventure. Vegetables and fruits I’d never heard of suddenly became tempting. Beets a sweet treat a new best friend. Even breads, pancake mixes, cookies all made from Rice products and sweetened with Agave nectar actually tasted good. The result was amazing. I lost ten pounds without trying. I gained more energy and clarity. I had an Aha moment. Dena also introduced me to a list of homeopathic remedies to treat ailments, like a cold, stomach bug,  headaches. Remember I am a skeptical journalist. If you have ever seen my Health reports over the years you know I never boast about something unless I have tried it myself and truly believe in it. So here’s to Dena and no more diet plans, fads, or beating myself up because I can’t get to the gym.

Blackberrry Bold A Bust

BlackberryI used to be a huge blackberry fan. Love the keyboard, the screen, how easy it is to use but in the past few years the blackberry has become a huge disappointment. I received my first one at NBC10 in 2004. It was great, the battery ran for days, it never dropped out, the signal with AT&T worked fine. My international blackberry that I took to the 2004 Oympics in Athens never failed me. But fast forward to my return to Chicago in 2007, when I had to give my old blackberry back to NBC and purchase a new one and that’s when it all began to go downhill. The 8800 lasted less than two years. The battery never lasted more than a day. The signal was often weak, and finally the charger point broke and left with me with no choice but to buy another one. So I bought the Bold. Three months later, my bold went bust. It kept shutting itself off, the battery lasted half a day, the signal was lousy. Of course being a longtime customer of AT&T I expected to get a new one. Well to my suprise I could trade it in and get what they call a refurbished one. Basically a used model recycled. No suprise again that 7 months later the second Bold is breaking down. Plus AT&T’s 3G signal is terrible. Yes I can go trade it in for yet another Bold. Plenty of people have stood in line at the loop store and some are on their 6th Bold in a year. But what’s the point?

Plus the service people don’t seem to care that you’ve shelled out hundreds of dollars each time you buy one of these toys .

So I have been weighing the I-phone option which so many rave about except for it’s battery life.

But it certainly doesn’t have the blackberry feel, that easy to use keyboard and screen. I think they make these gadgets today to die in less than two years so we keep spending our hard earned money. Makes you wonder what we ever did before them.