Be a lion, or dragon, or Wonder Woman. Whatever you need to be!

(Image not mine, found on Google)

Last week I finally was able to go see Wonder Woman with my hubby on a weeknight date night. After hearing good reviews and also reports that Gal Gadot did all her reshoots for the movie at five months pregnant (so badass!), I was even more excited for its awesomeness! I was not disappointed or let down by this film to say the least!! Wonder Woman was portrayed how she was meant to be: strong, fearless, determined, and even the costume choices and story line showed that. It was refreshing to see her like that as opposed to the very corny Wonder Woman from the 70s tv show.

I got a little depressed when Diana arrived in London in the 1940s after being on Paradise Island with the rest of the Amazon women for the whole of her life. Being on the island inhabited only by women, women did everything that men could do: hunt, fight, train, ride horses, etc. Living in that environment, Diana knew no limits on what she could do or was capable of. Anything that needed to be done, she could make it happen. From the moment she arrived in London, it was clear that women had to look a certain way, behave a certain way and there were certain places that she just couldn’t be. Diana persisted with insisting she needed to be on the front line fighting with Steve and it was just heartbreaking when he told her the hard truth of them not being able to help everyone.

I have to admit that I teared up while watching the scene where she first appears in her Wonder Woman armor on the battlefield walking into the field of gunfire. I did my best to hide the tears so my husband wouldn’t see and judge me even though I’m sure the two small shot bottles of rum I put in my fountain pop cup had something to do with them. Tyler doesn’t judge me harshly, I say that with humor because he knows sometimes I’m a giant nerd filled with corny. Ha ha. Anyway back to the battle scene where Diana reveals herself as Wonder Woman on earth for the first time: even though she was discouraged and told ‘No’ she still walked into war, fearless, strong, and untouchable as the bullets just ricocheted off her. She ignored how women were defined and told to act and behave; she faced danger because she knew what she was capable of even when no one would believe it. It was just an amazing moment to experience.

I needed to see this movie after what I’ve been through the past couple of months. Even though today isn’t like the London Diana came to in the 1940s, I’ve still have experienced being treated differently for being a woman on a professional level. I’ve felt that there’s nothing I can do about it: if I try and stand up for myself and fight then I’m too demanding but if I sit back and let it happen, I’m weak. For the whole of my summer, laying in bed in the morning after my husband leaves for work, I kept feeling there is no point to leave this bed other than to take care of our puppy. If I were to go to work, I’m just invisible and what I do doesn’t matter because what a man does it more important than anything I’m doing. How can I be successful if I can’t trust or respect those above me? Everything has just seemed hopeless. It just breaks my heart that even in 2017 this is still a thing.

I’m lucky to have a mentor through work that shared with me, “When everyone else is a sheep or wolf disguised as a sheep, be a lion.” Very good words I needed to hear, I just knew I was nowhere near lion material in my current state of depression and self defeat. Watching this movie was the encouragement I needed to begin the step out of my mental condition. It was also in this past week that while watching Game of Thrones (my favorite show of all time!) that a scene coincidentally spoke to me the same way. Olenna Tyrell gave Daenerys Targaryen some sound advice that is now being shared all over the internet as encouragement to women: “I’ve know a great many cleaver men. I’ve outlived them all. Do you know how? I ignored them. The lords of Westeros are sheep. Are you a sheep? No. You’re a dragon. Be a dragon.”

Be any or all of these things: a lion, dragon or Wonder Woman; whatever you have to be in order to survive! If not one of these then whoever the F you want to be! For the past few months I haven’t been surviving or even barely living. I can’t go on living like a emotionless zombie, I have to survive to be a survivor. I need to come out on the other side of this period of my life as my own Mother of Dragons or Queen of the Amazons. Even though I don’t know how to get there, I know I can and it’s possible!

Women are capable of doing anything and we can’t let hearing ‘no’ or any preconceived notions of how we are supposed to be or act stop us from walking into a battle that we know we are capable of fighting in. And dammit we also know we look good while doing it!

 

The Lodge of Forest City

Anyone who has followed me on social media since March has seen how often I’ve posted or raved about the Lodge Restaurant. The name isn’t a new one as the establishment has been around for nearly 30 years. A residence turned into a hotel and restaurant resort off Highway 69 in Forest City, the name came to represent fine dining and accommodations; where you would go for a fancy sit down meal or recommend someone stay from out of town. In the late 2000s after the economic recession, the Lodge was sold from its original owner Winnebago Industries and it has changed hands several times over the course of 10 years. Whenever you would see the Lodge was for sale or sold in the community paper, you hoped that whoever would take it on would restore it to it’s former glory or at least something that works for our town. New ownership brought with it new restaurant management in November of 2016. When I finally visited the Lodge under new ownership in March of 2017, I can honestly say not only did they bring back the atmosphere of fine dining but the restaurant is better than ever!!

On March 9th, 2017 I achieved a quarter life goal of mine when I made my final student loan payment! I texted my husband to ask if he could have the night off (at the time he still worked on 2nd shift while I work days) and we could celebrate! He only was able to get half of the night off meaning he had to be back in at 7 PM. I really wanted to splurge on very nice meal for the both of us on me and wasn’t sure if I could do that in town when we only had two hours from 5 PM when I got off work to 7 when he had to be back. Both of us remembered The Lodge had reopened and since neither of us had been there since it happened, we decided it would be the perfect spot for the night.

From the moment we walked in until we left, I can’t say enough how much I loved everything about it. The dining room has a gorgeous view of the river and golf course and we were sat by the window. We started with a glass of house red and I ordered the cheese board as an appetizer; three different types of cheese and baguettes, some imported. The cheese addict in me was very satisfied. We were surprised that each dinner came with an ‘amuse’ (sorry if I’m butchering the name/spelling), tonight it was a jalopeno glazed deviled egg. Very tasty! Both Tyler and I ordered the Ribeye De Burgo which came with potatoes and vegetables. The taste and proportions were perfect! You won’t leave here hungry or too full! To conclude the meal, each guest receives a chocolate truffle which the head chef spends hours on so they can reach perfection!

After this meal, I couldn’t stop thinking about how much of an excellent experience it was and I was so upset that I didn’t take any pictures! I noticed a new lounge area was built upstairs and used this as my excuse to come back the following week. On Tuesday I would post to Instagram this picture:

The caption read: I’m drinking a martini in an actual martini glass in Forest City! Dreams do come true!! I decided this would be my new favorite place to have a drink when I’m by myself.

Thursday I came back and decided to try some appetizers at the bar:
  
I tried the Escargot as well as the Ricotta board. Way more food for one person but if you want to have fun on a budget, an appetizer is enough food for one person.
That following Saturday night, Tyler and I stopped back for drinks at the bar making it my third visit in a week span. We were able to get to know the Executive Chef Josh Hayes while bonding over our collective love of Cabernet. Chef Josh studied in Paris at Le Cordon Bleu and has been all over the world so it’s always fascinating to talk to him. Tyler and I love to hear his stories and appreciate his modern, forward thinking and what it has done for this establishment and essentially this town.

Lunch and Dinner Menu (has since been updated but more on that later)

The next week Saturday when Tyler suggested the Lodge for dinner and I didn’t put up a fight. Not saying that we fight over were to eat but I know we aren’t the only couple that at times cannot decide where to eat!!

Our amuse were duck wontons and I forgot about the loaf of bread that comes with each meal! My mouth is watering as I write this! We ordered the grilled shrimp as an appetizer and as you can see we scarfed it down before I remembered to take a photo. (Yes they are that good)

On to the main course: I had the ribeye de burgo again so I could get a photo of it. Tyler ordered the lamb chop and said it was sooo very tender.

The next morning I would take my parents for Brunch at the Lodge. Yes they have brunch and I was proud of myself for eating there twice in less than 24 hours!
Brunch menu:

As you can see, this is a wonderful, made fresh brunch meal and not a buffet. What’s even better is their Mimosas and bloody Mary’s!
 My parents and I each had a mimosa.
I wasn’t sure what to try as everything looked amazing! There’s a chicken infused waffle on the menu! My mom and dad both went on the lunch side of things and ordered a BLT:

Since this was brunch, I always tend to lean more to the breakfast type of food. I chose the Eggs Benedict. You can have them traditional with hollandaise or with crab cakes or salmon. I chose with crab cakes.. BEST DECISION!!

After brunch was over, this had officially been my sixth visit to the Lodge from March 7th to March 26th. However before the month was over, I came again and had lunch with a friend. I had the Ceasar salad, which comes with anchovies on top and I decided to add chicken to it.

I can’t tell people enough who haven’t been here yet to TRY IT OUT!!! It may be a little more than what people pay for a nice meal out but it really is worth every penny. I guarantee it will be one of best meals of your life!

Starting in April, Josh has updated the menu to have a more spring/ summer lineup. While there are still some things from the fall/winter menu, it’s entirely different and all good! Of course, Tyler and I have already tried it! I tried the Mediterranean pasta with grilled shrimp. I never though that purple pasta that resembled Medusa’s hair could be so tasty!

There also has been a separate bar menu added since then as well which boosts, appetizers, lighter entrees and lighter fair. My friend Maggie and myself were just there for the bar menu: I had the Lodge Salad and she had the special of the night: a Gyro with frites. Both of us enjoyed our meals!

As you can see this place is one of my obsessions and I feel so lucky to have it in my town of Forest City. It really is unique and I hope our local people of the area come and support it so it can stay around for many more years!!!