Tag Archives: pir

The Original Gino’s East Deep Dish Pizza in Chicago

8 Aug


When my sailor graduated from Navy Boot Camp last week on August 2, there was one thing he really really really wanted to try – Chicago’s famous deep dish pizzas. But not any! He wanted the original.

Now, the Chicago style deep dish pizza was invented at Pizzeria Uno in Chicago in 1943. A couple of years later, Gino’s East was opened in Chicago by a couple of cab drivers. They stole some cooks from Pizzeria Uno and went to war with the original deep dish location, fighting for the title of “best deep dish in Chicago”.

The controversy arises over who is the “original” deep dish and the “best” because no one knows WHO exactly invented the deep dish… we only know that it was someone in the kitchen of Pizzeria Uno. And when kitchen staff began to scatter and go their separate ways – like to Gino’s, claims began to vary as who held the “original recipe”, and different pizza joints employing original staff from Uno’s all try to point out their REAL claims of authenticity.

But historically, no ones knows who invented the deep dish. We only know I originated from Pizzeria Unos. So why did we try the deep dish at Gino’s East and not at Pizzera Uno’s? Well, while Pizzeria Uno has a stronger claim to the title of “Inventor of the Deep Dish”, Gino’s is almost universally acclaimed as the better tasting deep dish pizza of the two. In fact, it’s consistently rated one of the best tasting “original” deep dish pizzas in Chicago since it’s opening about seven decades ago.

Jonathan wanted an original, but he also wanted the best. So off to Gino’s East we went!




The legendary restaurant is right off of Superior Street and Michigan Avenue and the joint is moody, eclectic and low lit cave of a place, with thousands of scribbles all over the walls from past guests. Autographed pictures of famous patrons from celebrities to politicians to musicians who have tried the famous pizza litter the walls. It’s a great atmosphere for a dinner in Chicago!

Now, a deep dish pizza differs from a normal pizza in that it has a buttery, flaky golden crust upwards of three inches tall, rising slightly higher than the ingredients, and is coated in a second “crust” of cheese, then topped with toppings swimming in sauce. The crust acts as a kind of bowl – the first time I tried deep dish pizza in Chicago I called it “pizza soup” and to date I’ve found it the most fitting description. You simply cannot eat a deep dish slice with your hands (without looking like a barbarian that is), it’s a dish that really needs a fork and knife.


Seriously, you could plop some cooked pasta noodles in your deep dish, and the toppings would work as a perfect sauce – they are that consistency. While I enjoy a Chicago deep dish, I wouldn’t classify it as something better than a regular pizza. It’s too different to be lumped into that category, really. And while it is good, it’s nothing I’d go out of my way for back home. It’s just a cultural flavor that I’d indulge in while in the Chicago area. Jonathan felt about the same. It was delicious and definitely something we’d do again, but not a must-make dish for our kitchen back home. But all in all, it was a yummy excursion! And a fun graduation day dinner!

I’ve said it a million times, and I’ll say it again – I’m so very proud of my United States sailor!!!



Wordless Wednesday – August 7, 2013

7 Aug


Jonathan’s Graduation from Navy Boot Camp

5 Aug

My husband is now a United States Navy Sailor. I am proud beyond words. No, really, beyond words. I have started and stopped typing at this blank screen for a good 15 minutes now, and I just can’t find a way to express the pride and the joy and the excitement I feel. Or just how amazing Friday, August 2, 2013 was. So. I’ll just let the pictures share what my words cannot. Because really guys, I don’t even know what to say.

Things to Bring to Navy Graduation (PIR) Checklist

30 Jul


I’m leaving tomorrow morning for Chicago to see my handsome husband graduate Navy Boot Camp as a United States Sailor. I’m going insane with last minute packing and with my preggo brain, I’m terrified that I’ll forget something vital to pack… hence this super long and largely common sense list that I’ve compiled. As I have personally never attended a Navy PIR, this is all info I’ve gleaned from seasoned Navy wives and mothers, and things that I’ve found that I personally would like to bring or include.

Since I’ve thoroughly raped this checklist in my Word documents, I thought I might as well share it with the blogosphere. I hope someone out there finds it helpful, haha!



Plane tickets, hotel reservations and car rental information – Have all of your important travel reservations and documents handy, along with phone numbers and street addresses of hotel, car pick up / drop off locations, the Meet and Greet and the Great Lakes military base.

Phone, laptop and chargers – These are essentials for me when it comes to travel. I usually don’t forget the actual phone or laptop, it’s the chargers that I have a tendency to forget.

Camera, lenses, batteries, charger, memory card and uploading cord – One of my worst nightmares is the thought of forgetting my camera right before an important event, or just as awful, any one of the elements of my camera that are required for photography. I literally have nightmares before major happenings – my honeymoon, a vacation, a graduation – so I’ve gotten really anal about checking and double checking this part of the list. And just last week a gal on the 900 division Facebook group reported having to take photos on her iPhone because she forgot her camera’s SD cards! It happens. So make sure you have your camera, your lenses (standard and telephoto), your batteries, your cameras charger and an uploading cord for getting your photos safely stored onto your laptop ASAP.

Your toiletries and medications – I could go on an even greater checklist with this little category (and my unabridged checklist on my iPhone notebook does just that), but for brevities sake – toiletries and medications. You know what you need / want.

Make up with waterproof mascara – Emphasis on the waterproof mascara. Don’t forget to pack make-up remover wipes as well. (Or better yet, don’t wear any makeup on PIR day, to avoid smudging the Navy whites.)

Outfit for the Meet and Greet – From what I can tell, the attire is casual. I plan on wearing a nice-ish top and leggings, with comfortable pumps.

Centerpiece and place cards for the Meet and Greet – Division families are encouraged to show support for their divisions by creating centerpieces for the tables at Sarge’s Meet and Greet. It’s obviously not a requirement, but our division group is so tight knit and ambitious, we went all out and plan to take the Meet and Greet by storm. In a fit of Martha Stewart-esque craftiness I decided I’d make personalized origami boat place cards for all the people in our group and ensure that we can all sit together.

Gifts for fellow division families at the Meet and Greet – If you were lucky enough to find an amazing support group of fellow Navy families from your sailors division through Facebook that you plan to meet up with, show your appreciation for their company and support with a small gift, candy, cards, whatever (if you’d like, it’s certainly not mandatory)! In the first few weeks of discovering my new online friends, I decided to make up a batch of patriotic lapel pins as gifts. The group has since grown to a number that exceeds the lapel pins I made, so my generosity and act of friendship is only extending to the 938 Facebook old-timers. (Classy, I know, lol.)

Parking passes, base pass and IDs – Make sure you have all of this printed out and set aside prior to leaving for Great Lakes. These guys don’t mess around. If you don’t have the appropriate documents, you won’t be getting in to see the graduation.

Outfit for the PIR – The going consensus is that the attire is business casual, though there is currently no enforced dress code, so jeans and a tee are welcomed. But really? Jeans and a tee for a NAVY GRADUATION? Come on. I’m planning on wearing a nice navy blue knee length day dress. I was agonizing trying to find the perfect dress to show off my baby bump to my husband, and had planned on wearing a 1950’s style circle skirt with an empire waist, but finally decided to opt for something simple, comfortable and classy.

Comfortable walking shoes – Make sure you plan to wear comfortable walking shoes – if your sailor wants to go out on the town, you may be spending the day in whatever you are wearing.

Support ribbons or attire – Don’t forget to pack any ribbons or other support trinkets if you are planning on sporting them to the PIR.

Jacket or wrap – I have been hearing rumors that the PIR room is pretty cold. A lot of gals online are advising bringing something warm to cover up with, like a light jacket or a wrap.

Tissues – If you’re not crying like a baby, you’re a robot. Or a monster. Or a robotic monster. Anyway, make sure you bring something to sob into when you see your sailor on the PIR floor. And when you hear liberty call. And, you know, for the whole weekend.

Graduation gifts for your sailor – I got my husband the Performance Division’s Ship 2 Challenge Coin, and a leather Burberry bomber jacket that I found pre-used for an AMAZING deal. I am going to wrap them and bring them in my checked luggage, but as I have had wrapped gifts unwrapped by TSA before, I’m bringing extra paper just in case I need to re-wrap.

Sailors cell phone and charger, and other electronics. – Your sailor will be able to take these things with them to A School, but they have to be handed off at the airport after their day of leave. I’m going to make sure I have Jonathan’s phone charged and activated during his free time after graduation though, as I’m sure he’d enjoy checking his phone, logging onto Facebook or Google searching random things throughout the day.

Sailors rings and personal jewelry – I’ve been wearing Jonathan’s wedding ring and his Aragorn ring on a necklace since he left for Boot Camp. I can’t wait to see them back on his fingers, and I’m sure his hands have felt naked without them.

Change of clothes for your sailor – If you plan on spending any time in your hotel room, give your sailor the option of changing our of their sailor uniform and into some comfortable and familiar clothes. I’m planning on bring my husband some pajamas, an actual outfit (jeans a tee shirt), and one of his favorite loose hoodies so he has a choice of what to wear / change into.

Your sailors favorite cologne, deodorant or shampoo – While Jonathan isn’t big on cologne, he does love him his Axe brand shampoos and deodorants. People talk about how much their sons / husbands loved returning to their familiar and personalized scents and grooming products. I don’t know how much the gesture will be one that Jonathan delights in, but I’d rather have that option open to him if it would make him feel that much more “at home”.

Lingerie and massage oil – This is for the wifey’s (obviously). I don’t know when / if we’ll have time to ditch the in-laws and indulge in some, uh, quiet time – but in the off chance that we do, I am planning on bringing my classy honeymoon lingerie as a sweet surprise (Don’t look at me like I’m some kinky temptress, it cover more than the average swimsuit. I wore this for my 30 week maternity photos), and some massage oil, and I’m hoping to give my honey a long, relaxing, peaceful massage. Hey, he’s earned it!

Lint roller and tide pen – The sailors must wear their white uniforms in public at all times during PIR weekend, so if you are planning on going out and about, make their life easier and have a lint roller and tide pen to keep them neat and clean.

Dental floss, mint gum, chapstick – Keep some handy “just in case” essentials in your purse. This is not the weekend to be irritated and made uncomfortable by a pesky / stubborn piece of food stuck in your (or your sailors) teeth. Or chapped lips. Or a rank breath from the extra garlic on your deep dish Chicago pizza. Take extra steps to make the weekend a cheerful, joyous, stress free one for all!

Change / cash for toll booths – If you plan on driving in to the Chicago area at all, make sure you have loose change and cash on hand for parking, toll booths and various expenses.

Directions to places you may want to see in Chicago – In my experience, a GPS can get really spotty once you get into the downtown areas. So it’s a good idea to know where you are going, what the address is, and a the directions for getting there instead of embarking on a point by point Google maps excursion.

Letters for your sailor – I have been writing to my husband every single day since he departed for Navy Boot Camp two months ago. Even though I’ve had to stop sending letters with his PIR date approaching, I have not stopped writing them. I plan to bring the unsent letters for him to read on his plane trip to A School.

Book for your sailor to read on the plane – I have not gotten a clear response on whether sailors will have room for an extra book on their flight to A School, but I figure it wouldn’t hurt to bring my bookworm baby a novel just in case. If he can’t take it, I’ll just have to bring it to him when I follow him to A School later.

It Feels Like Watching Him Cosplay A Sailor

26 Jul

I watched my husband perform live in the Navy Drum Line this morning during the Great Lakes Boot Camp graduation. I am very much enjoying this aspect of his being in the Performance Division! Getting to see him two weeks in a row prior to graduation? *faints with happy* And I will be there, watching him perform in person, in just ONE WEEK!!! It’s finally here! I can’t begin to express how proud I am of my handsome husband.

Jonathan looks so different with his hair gone… and I somehow can’t quite wrap my head around the concept that his looked has changed – and will remain changed – for the duration of his service in the Navy. He’s not going to snap back to his normal “look”. His hair isn’t going to be shoulder length, he won’t be sporting facial hair.

It’s odd! I feel almost as though I’m watching Jonathan cosplay a sailor, and I’m waiting for the realization to sink in that this is my new military man, lol. He isn’t just putting on the costume of an American hero… he is becoming one!! In our relationship ,he has been a man of many costumes and many faces. But of all his looks, I think I like this one suits him best. I AM SO PROUD OF HIM!!

Don’t I have a handsome man?!

Centerpieces and Place Cards for Sarge’s Meet and Greet

26 Jul


So when Jonathan first shipped off for Navy Boot Camp and I first started networking with fellow Navy families on Facebook, I quickly learned about Sarge’s Meet and Greet – a casual gathering that takes place the night before Navy graduation (or PIR, Pass In Review).

Right off the bat I was planning on going, more as an outlet for nervous energy than from any real desire to meet up with a bunch of strangers I’d met off the Internet. That continued to be my mindset until over the weeks, those “strangers” slowly became my kooky, comforting, commiserating and crazy Navy family.

The Facebook group for my husband’s division, Ship 2 Division 938, is made up of an extremely fun and friendly bunch. And they have without question helped maintain my sanity over the past two months. Without them, I would have consumed far more tubs of Starbucks Mocha Chip ice cream whilst sobbing and hugging my cats in my pajamas and watching Gene Kelly tap dance routines in Anchors Aweigh on an infinite loop. (This was the plan, really, till Facebook happened.) I’m convinced that we have in 938 a unique group that is unlike the other divisions groups. This isn’t just blind patriotic team spirit (though maybe just a dash), but a valid observation from my expert trolling reconnaissance missions. If “boring, depressing and overly serious” had a tangible meter, they’d be maxing it out.

So now, I am eager for Sarge’s Meet and Greet, and anxious to meet my boot camp “family” and put faces to the names that I’ve come to eagerly anticipate in my Facebook feed. While all of the divisions were encouraged to make / bring centerpieces to show some division pride, our group went above and beyond in a concerted effort to make the Meet and Greet memorable and to celebrate our new United States Navy Sailors. Below is my centerpiece contribution. It’s all purchased goodies from Hobby Lobby, but I had fun piecing it together.




As there are so many of us that want to sit together, I’ve decided that in addition to the centerpieces, I’m going to grab individual seats for our 938 family using place cards. It’s the first time place cards have been used at the casual Meet and Greet (maybe we’re gonna raise the bar and start something for future divisons? Hehe!) but Sarge says we’re welcome to come early and carve out our own little space. When I was getting ready to print out some old fashioned folded card style place cards, I thought, “Why not have some fun with it?” Below are my first few mock ups of the origami boat place cards I’ll be making for all 49 of our 938ers. I got the idea after finding this blog post on Nifty Thrifty Things Blog. How cute will those look floating around the various tables?! I’m fairly certain Sarge’s Meet and Greet will be overrun my 938. It’s gonna be a fun night! Hooya NAVY!







Jonathan Performing in the Navy Drum Line PIR 7/19/13

19 Jul


OMG OMG OMG! I spent most of my morning hysterically giggle-crying over my computer, like some prepubescent teen watching a Bieber concert.

My husband, whom I haven’t seen in 7 weeks, performed live playing the bass drum at the Navy Boot Camp graduation with the Navy Drum Line Performance Division in Great Lakes, Illinois and I got to watch the live streaming video (and grab some screen shots). I hardly recognized him at first! He looks so different! The Navy balded my husband!

And those dorky chic glasses? LOL! I am so madly and desperately in love with this man. I am feeling so blessed to have been able to watch him perform. I am walking on air. AND! I get to see him play again next Friday! And in two weeks? He’ll be the one graduating and I’ll be making a spectacle of myself sobbing into his arms. We’re almost there!!!