Pinstripes – Bowling for the 21st Century

September 6, 2009 by  
Filed under Fun, Restaurants, Reviews

Update March 12, 2011:  Last night, I enjoyed a pleasant, delicious dinner at Pinstripes and have to blog a shout out!!  Walking in about 7:00pm, we were told we’d be seating within 35 minutes.  Within that wait, one of the managers (I wish I caught his name!) must have walked past us three or four times.  On the fourth visit, we inquired – curiously, not frustratingly – about the wait and he told us it would be just one more minute.    Well . . . not only did the host seat us within that promised minute, that same manager sent us the most delicious Prosciutto Fig Flatbread on the house for our wait.  Our wait really wasn’t that long for a Saturday night and we weren’t even complaining, yet this manager apparently cares about the satisfaction of each of his patrons.  Btw, that particular flatbread is something on the menu I’d probably never order but it gets an A+ for a fabulous combination of salt and sugar to please the palette prefacing the meal.  One more shout out to our server who served with such honesty that I’ve never experienced with a server before.  My daughter was interested in trying the New England Lobster Roll.  Without hesitation, the server told her “I don’t like it; don’t order it” and, furthermore, he shared that he’s had a number of customers who were disappointed as well.  Normally, a server will water down his true opinion and tell customers something such as, “Well, I don’t care for it but that’s just my opinion” or “You may like it if you like lobster.”  She ended up savoring the Spaghetti and Huge Stuffed Meatball and was not disappointed.  In fact, none of us at the table were disappointed.  And apparently, no one in the full dining room was disappointed either – Pinstripes is a wonderful place for both families and couples to come out and enjoy a delicious meal within a uniquely fun, relaxed environment.  A+ to Pinstripes for truly caring, efficient, refreshing customer service that we won’t soon forget.

This weekend I held a surprise birthday party for my daughter at a new venue – Pinstripes Bowling Bocce Bistro.  Not only was she completely surprised (te-he!) but the night was a huge success.  The service was attentive, the food was delicious, and the atmosphere was inviting both for my daughter’s teenage friends as well as us (slightly) older folks.  I promised the manager I would write a review expressing my satisfaction.  This is an easy one for me; I’m recommending this place to anyone planning a work meet-up, party, or just looking for a unique place to have lunch or dinner.

 

A unique dining and entertainment venue!

A unique dining and entertainment venue!

Pinstripes is one of the those places that impresses you as soon as you walk in.  Before my daughter and her friend made their grand entrance, the manager had a ‘hiding’ place ready for me to gather the guests near the six bocce courts, complete with balloons and pitchers of drinks (lemon water, of course, for the PG crowd).  Once my daughter overcame her shock, a server came over to explain the game of bocce to our group.  The guys and girls gigglingly (did I just make up a word?) played for about 50 minutes before we were told our bowling lanes were ready.  We moved to the most inviting set of 18 bowling lanes I’ve ever seen, complete with couches and pink bowling balls.  GG was in heaven!!!!  (Don’t worry, there were blue balls for the guys too).  The kids punched their names into the computerized scoreboards that meticuously kept track of each player’s records and began.  As they initiated the game, the servers brought out the food on the waiting table-clothed, flowered buffet: Caesar salad and Margherita pizza.  The kids inhaled the food as they played.  For dessert, a pleasing, large plate of brownies and cookies with candles was presented to the birthday girl.  Yumm!!!

While the kids bowled, my friend and I mosied outside to the bonfire.  It was a beautiful night and the outdoor garden area was cozy and inviting.  They even provide blankets if you are cold!!  A gentleman sang and played guitar accoustically as couples cuddled, families played bocce, and friends socialized.  My friend and I decided to taste the Italian/American cuisine I heard so many raves about.  We split the tenderloin sliders and then enjoyed the ahi tuna salad.  Let me just say that the sliders lived up to their name – we had no trouble sliding the melt-in-your-mouth tender steaks drizzled in a tasty sauce, wrapped in a tasty bun.  I’m picky about my ahi tuna since I frequent California, and crave the fresh fish sushi found there.  This tuna definitely passed GG’s test; I’d order it again.  Next time, though, I have to try the lobster b.l.t.!!

Besides bowling, bocce and the bonfire, Pinstripes has a sports bar area complete with large screen T.Vs (large screen T.V.s are also in the bowling areas), a wine cellar, and rooms upstairs for parties from 20 – 600.  Talk about a unique wedding that guests would certainly appreciate.  Fun!  GG gives Pinstripes an A for universal appeal to young, old, and in-between.  Suburbanites often complain of the same ol’ movie and dinner evening.  Pinstripes provides that unique dining and entertainment venue we’ve been waiting for!!

“The Only Guaranteed Moment is This One”

July 20, 2009 by  
Filed under Fitness, Fun, Reviews, Spas

That is what one of the instructors at Tri Balance Yoga Studio regularly expresses at the end of my Hot Yoga class.  This statement mirrors one of the philosophies I try to live by – to live life in the moment.  There is no future, there is no past.  The future and the past only exist in our language, not in reality.  The only real moment is the present moment, yet too many people try to live for the future or re-live the past.  In doing so, they miss out on so much.   I wanted to start taking yoga to relax my body and help my mind live in this present.

Yoga offers countless benefits

Yoga offers countless benefits

I discovered Tri Balance Yoga Studio two weeks ago and I can honestly say I’m a better person for it.  As listed on the Tri Balance site, the many benefits of yoga include improved balance, relieved aches and pains, reduced stress, increased body strength, more flexibility, anti-aging effects, improved blood pressure, and more.  Being an avid strength and circuit trainer, I used to write off yoga as a good stretching activity but not much else.  I only wish I realized how wrong I was earlier.  I now believe yoga can accomplish all of those benefits and more.  I personally feel so lithe and light after each class that I’m glowing.  It could have to do with the fact that I literally drip sweat and melt skin during class.  In any event, you CANNOT walk out of Tri Balance in a bad mood.

The first week I joined, I participated in four hot yoga sessions and one fitness Pilates.  The first day I missed a session, I instantly felt it.  The second week (last week), I was unfortunately busier and was only able to partake in two hot yoga sessions.  I missed it terribly.  This week I vow to take five sessions.  Allow me to explain some of the reasons Tri Balance is such a soothing studio . . .

First, the people at Tri Balance – the instructors along with those behind the desk – create a welcoming, individualized environment.  I have had two hot yoga instructors so far and one fitness pilates instructor; all three of these experts constantly walk around the room, either helping to correct our body positions or challenging us to maneuver in more difficult positions.  I have received individual attention every single session as I noticed so has everyone else.   Classes always attract an impressive amount of people but because the room is fairly large, it never feels too cramped to move fully.  The entire studio is impeccably clean.  The women’s bathroom is inviting with extra towels, mats, soaps, etc. ready for members; plus, it always has that fresh just-been-cleaned smell each day.  The studio offers a variety of classes including Hot Yoga, Hot Core Yoga, Fitness Pilates, Ashtanga Yoga, Total Body Conditioning, and Core.  Classes are offered seven days a week.   Prices are very reasonable; and, you don’t have to sign a contract locking you in for a certain time.  Click here for current rates.

Along with the yoga studio, there is a hair stylist, massage therapist, nutritionist, and holistic doctor within the same walls – another attestment to Tri Balance helping the whole person . . . physically and mentally.  The studio also regularly offers workshops to enhance the yoga experience.  For instance, the next workshop is covering Gong Meditation, using our inter-vibratory system to de-stress.

Convinced yet?  Well, if you live, work or visit the northwest suburbs of Chicago, you should give Tri Balance studio a try.  Tell them Grading Girl sent you!  You will not be wasting your time.  People of every size, shape, gender, and age take classes here.  Everyone leaves his or her inhibitions at the door.  Oh, and in case you’re wondering, the room is set at 106° and the lights are very minimal during the hot yoga sessions.  Admittedly, I’ve fallen asleep momentarily after the Namaste because I’m so relaxed by the end.

An added benefit:  Tri Balance offers discounts to police officers, firemen, teachers, military personnel, and nurses.  Of course, they get extra credit from Grading Girl for that one! 🙂

Grading Girl gives Tri Balance Yoga Studio an A for providing the community with a soothing environment for very healthful classes.  The convenient schedule (hot yoga is offered at least four times a day) adds to the high grade.

Yum Yum Time

April 18, 2009 by  
Filed under Fun, Reviews

Yum Yum Bowls

My first set of Yum Yum Bowls

Feeding my all-things-mini obsession, I purchased my second set of these adorable bowls. Yum Yum Dishes™ measure four ounces, the perfect size for portioning snacks. They come in a set of four, one of each color. In this American “Super Size Me” society, it’s hard to stop munching after one serving, let alone even know how much one serving really is. Many parents purchase these adorable servers for children’s snacks, but they’re perfect for any size person. For instance, fill a bowl with chips and, magic, you have an actual serving instead of the whole bag temptation. Life is too serious for us to take our snacks seriously, so the cheery message at the bottom of the bowl, “Yum Yum Time is over,” is our extra credit for eating healthy portions. Of course, I haven’t only used these for snacks. I serve condiments in them because who wants an ugly ketchup bottle sitting on the table?! One or two of these little guys has been known to sneak on my desk, holding paper clips as well. The price of $22/set is as miniature as the bowls themselves.

Tracy Adler first introduced The Yum Yum Dish™ at her former restaurant, Café on the Square in Asheville, North Carolina. There, she served appetizers and desserts in these adorable bowls to help her customers portion control. Amen! GG wants to know when others will catch on!  I purchased a set of these for my bro and sis-in-law long before my little niece was born.  They loved the bowls for snacking themselves and, as you can see in the picture below, they’re perfect now for feeding the newest member of the family complete meals:

Yum Yum bowls make mealtime fun!!

On a serious side note, Tracy sold her restaurant in preparation to move her family to Atlanta to live closer to a major university hospital.  Her eight year-old son, Elliot, was diagnosed with CMT –  Charcot-Marie-Tooth disease.  CMT is one of the most common, incurable neurological disorders that affect 1 in 2,500 people.  Elliot’s nerves are dying beginning with his toes, and there is desperate need for a cure.  To read more about Elliot’s courageous fight against the disease and/or to donate to H.E.L.P., Help Elliot Live Proud, visit his blog at Elliot’s Corner.  Tracy graciously gave Grading Girl one set of Yum Yum dishes for a poetry contest last year.  Check out the winner and deets of that contest here:  GG’s First Giveaway.     Additionally, discover the whole story behind the Yum Yum dishes at www.yumyumdish.com and pick up your own set.  They are worth every penny (and they’re not too many pennies, at that!).

Grading Girl gives these bowls an A for adorableness and practicality, plus bonus points for excellent customer service.  Grading Girl gives Elliot and the Adler family an A+ for their courageousness in fighting CMT!!  My thoughts and prayers go out to the family.

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