What Kind of Cookery is This?

March 30, 2011 at 1:58 pm (Uncategorized) (, , , , , , , )

Time for another quick and easy recipe that is in no way representative of what would actually be on a respected food blog anywhere on the internet!

This meal was prepared a few weeks ago with a friend of mine.  After another typical Wednesday helping out at the food pantry, it was late and I was tired when I got home.  Luckily I had great company and a little bit of homemade wine (thanks to my uncle!) to help me make it through the rest of the night.

Should've included the wok in the photo...stupid hindsight

As you can see, it was a stir-fry kind of night.

In the interest of full disclosure, the veggies came in a stir-fry “kit” from Aldi’s.  Basically it was a ton of frozen vegetables with a packet of sauce, but for the $2.99 price tag I’d say it more than delivered.  I wound up with 6 helpings of the stir fry (read: leftovers) and luckily the stuff held in the fridge rather well.  The vegetarian pot stickers came from Whole Foods but you could find them just about anywhere too.  The potstickers went in the oven to bake while the veggies were tossed into my wok, and a mere 10 minutes later my dinner was born!  I usually add some noodle to the mix but as the contents of my pantry slowly dwindles, I made do with what I had.

The wok (something I may or may not have blogged about in the past) was a wedding gift to my parents that I got in the divorce.  I love it and when I move into my new apartment with actual counter space I hope to use it much more.  It helped turn a mundane Wednesday night into a party in my mouth but not everyone was invited.  However, you can create your own delectable meal using these tools and ingredients any time you want – and if you’re feeling lazy, just let me know and I’ll whip it up in my wok.

Wok and roll!

Yes, I went there.

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CTA (Crazy Transit Anecdotes)

March 29, 2011 at 3:03 pm (Uncategorized) (, , , , , , , , , , )

If you’ve read my blog long enough, you’re familiar with the fact that public transportation in Chicago provides for some interesting stories.  This week has been no different and, while it’s just Tuesday, I’ve had enough interesting for the week.

The first story took place on the train Sunday evening as I was making my way home from the megabus stop near Union Station.  The closest train stop for me wasn’t exactly the nicest one but I’ve been there plenty of times and don’t really think much of it.  I found a seat and hunkered down with my luggage, then settled in for the ride.  But the ride had to wait because an elderly man displayed pure badassary and single-handedly stopped a pickpocket.

Oh CTA, you so crazy

I didn’t really understand what was going on but I did see an older couple with a ton of luggage blocking the door to the train.  There was also a man who seemed to be being held by a few others and at first I thought he was drunk and trying to board.  Then he was pulled away by a few security guards and the couple fully boarded so the doors could close.  It was clear the older man was shaken and as he sat down and  began to speak to his (likely) wife I figured out what had actually happened.  He basically caught the pickpocket red-handed and held onto him for dear life while the security guards were brought in.  Standing in the door was the smartest thing he could do and the other passengers helped hold the would-be thief until he was apprehended.  I was happy for the man and impressed with his quick thinking – I also held my purse a bit tighter the whole way home.

The second story took place on the train coming into work yesterday morning.  I was sitting quietly with my eyes closed as I usually do on the ride into work, trying to mentally bend the space-time continuum so my train would arrive in the future after the work day was already finished.  I was having problems with this when I could sense the person sitting next to me squirming around a little more than normal.  Upon opening my eyes, I saw a woman who was obviously very uncomfortable.  Since I know what it’s like to be hungover nauseous on a moving train, my heart went out to her.  Then she put her head between her legs and made a retching noise so awful that I did a double take to see if she was harboring a small rabid animal in her purse.  Seriously.  She wasn’t.  When she came back to a sitting position the poor girl was obviously extremely surprised by her outburst and also very embarrassed, which probably got worse when a bunch of strangers started asking her if she was okay.  Perhaps she was pregnant and experience the first wonderful throes of morning sickness?  Maybe she was the host for an alien that was trying to burst from her stomach (hmm…similiar to pregnancy)?  Or maybe she had a ham and cheese breakfast sandwich that just wasn’t sitting right.  Regardless, when her stop came she was the first one off the train and I couldn’t exactly blame her.

Last but not least (holy crap this is turning into a marathon post), I overheard a couple of teenage girls on the bus this morning discussing their Driver’s Ed course.  Apparently they’re both terrified of lane merges and think that the recommended stop sign wait time is much too long.  This gave me yet another reason I’m glad I don’t have a car and it made me extremely thankful I’m no longer in high school as well.

Besides, if I drove everywhere then I wouldn’t be privy to these crazy transit anecdotes.

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Girls’ Night Out

March 28, 2011 at 12:13 pm (Uncategorized) (, , , , , , )

So, the bachelorette party was a smashing success.  The 8 of us gathered for pizza and beer early Saturday night and passed out presents that ensured the embarrassment of the bride-to-be.  We didn’t do the whole tiara-sash-screaming thing but she did wear a button and one of the other revelers made is matching t-shirts, which we of course put on immediately and while still sitting at the table (don’t worry, we kept it clean – our first stop was a family place).

Safest photo I could include...

Once we hit the bars it was clear we were a little louder than some of the other patrons but no one really seemed to mind.  Especially not the bartender who, in an ironic twist of fate, happened to be the bachelorette’s very first serious boyfriend.  No one knew that he worked at the first bar on our list and we ended up staying there for quite a while as he was reminiscing with the lady of the hour and providing us with ample free drinks.  The cute foreign doctors I met did the same and it was interesting to talk to people who only have a cursorily experience with America (I learned that they both love Ruth Chris’ Steakhouse and are amazed at how big the United States really is).

Something that we all quickly noticed was the attention a bachelorette party receives.  There was a strong correlation between groups of guys being told what we were celebrating and the amount of pick up lines we received.  It was as though every male out there assumed that the other girls in the party would be so despondent at seeing one of their own taken off the market and preparing for a walk down the aisle that we’d desperately fall into bed with the nearest coherent man.  It was an interesting phenomenon to experience and even more interesting because not one of their lines worked.

Other highlights of the night include a brief stop at a hippie commune owned by a top government official,  watching the bride’s mom down a few shots, dancing in the street, losing part of my boot and closing down a bar (first time I’ve done that in a while).  There are a few other memorable moments but a lady never reveals all of her secrets.

All in all, it was a pretty successful night on the town.  I was also able to get some quality time in with a few other great old college friends and I managed a meal at my favorite Cajun eatery outside of Louisiana – Yats.  The megabus proved relatively uneventful as there were no bottles of Jack floating around this time, which was probably for the best.  I’m still pretty exhausted and I could use a vacation from my vacation but it was all totally worth it.

I just need to figure out how to fix my boot.

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It’s the End of the Week as We Know It

March 25, 2011 at 1:29 pm (Uncategorized) (, , , , )

It’s the happiest day of the week!  It’s also been a busy one for me so I don’t have much time to write.  I’m taking a megabus road trip after work to go to Indianapolis, where I’ll be attending my first-ever bachelorette party tomorrow night.  I may or may not be doing a post about that because sometimes what happens at bachelorette parties should stay at bachelorette parties.  I’ll also be crashing with some great old friends whom I haven’t seen in months.  Hopefully I won’t have a seatmate on the ride who’s been drinking Jack Daniels since noon but with the megabus you just never know…

Regardless, have yourselves a great weekend!

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Congrats to My Mom!

March 23, 2011 at 6:48 am (Uncategorized) (, , , , )

Oh hi Mom

Today marks the 21st anniversary of my mom being cancer-free.  You may remember that I blogged about it last year and I just want to take a moment today to say once again how thankful I am for the past 21 years (okay, I’m thankful for all of them) with my momma.  She’s one of my all-time favorite people and I consider myself lucky to call her both my parent and my friend.  I wish I could be with her to help properly celebrate today but she’ll be visiting in a couple of weeks so I’ll be sure to treat her to something nice then.  My mom is one of the strongest woman in my life and she taught me everything I know about being independent, resilient and just plain amazing.  So congratulations Mom, and Happy Anniversary!  Love you Mom!

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Schooled in Spacing

March 22, 2011 at 12:23 pm (Uncategorized) (, , , , , , , )

According to the internet and the always-factual Wikipedia, I have been going about my writing in an incorrect way.  When I was taught to type, back in the ancient days of my electric typewriter, I was told that I needed to put two spaces after each period.  This was reaffirmed by Mrs. Allen in my 7th grade typing class and it was in that class that I honed in on my now 80-something wpm rate.  Since I was trained to double-space, that’s what I’ve been doing.  For many, many years.  I’ve written collegiate research papers and published short stories and columns while double-spacing and I always got away with it – in fact, I had no idea that single-spacing was even an option, let alone the norm.

We go way back

A few months ago, my editor at the magazine commented that I needed to single space my work from then on out.  Imagine my surprise when I did a quick Google search and realized that I had been flagrantly disregarding the standard way of typing for the entirety of my typing career.  So I began single-spacing my work and quickly realized that it was extremely difficult to break myself of this old (bad?) habit.  My solution?  Type everything the way I’m used to then go back and manually delete the second spaces (sidenote: if this can magically be done with the click of a button through Word, I don’t know how and would welcome a brief tutorial).

You can see that I still double space here in my blog and I do it in pretty much everything else I type as well.  Asking me to switch completely over to single spacing would be like asking me to begin using the toilet backwards, with my face to the wall.  Sure, I could probably train myself to do so but it would be awkward as all get out and I might not be able to look at myself the same way ever again.

Am I one of the last few double-spacing typists left?  Perhaps I’m of a dying breed that will lead to an evolved species of super single spacers, but I like to think there’s enough of us out there to carry the trend forward.  Because it’s a little too late to teach this old typist new tricks…though with enough cookies and cake as incentive I suppose anything is possible.

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Save the Serengeti

March 21, 2011 at 12:02 pm (Uncategorized) (, , , , , , , )

On Saturday, I attended a lecture at the Field Museum by Bruce Patterson, curator of the Hall of Mammals.  He spoke of the Serengeti, which is a national park and world heritage site in Tanzania, Africa.  The Serengeti hosts the world’s largest annual mammal migration, which is considered one of the world’s top natural travel wonders.  The migration is vital to the ecosystems and ecotourism of the area and is necessary to ensure that these species continue to procreate and flourish.  Unfortunately, the Tanzanian government is trying to build a highway right through the area where the migration takes place.

The Map

As you can see, this map shows migration patterns and the highway route proposed by the government.  Then there’s a proposed alternate route that would not only save the migration but also save space and money (it’s roughly 40 miles shorter) for the overall highway project.  Over 300 scientists from around the world are calling for the government in Tanzania to adopt the alternate route instead of the planned one.  Unfortunately, sometimes dealing with leaders of other countries isn’t ever easy, especially when it comes to the land and resources in their country.  Scientists and conservationists are continuously working to preserve large areas that feature natural habitats and the Serengeti is just about the largest preserved area on the planet.  When this wildlife sanctuary goes, what else will we have to fight for?

So yeah, there’s my environmentalist rant for the day.  It’s tough because there’s not much we can do, other than to be aware of what’s going on.  We could write letters to the Tanzanian government but in a situation like this, that could actually cause more harm than good (politics get tricky when you have an undereducated, stubborn man in power who doesn’t want to be told what to do with his country, especially not by some young white girl in the States).

Knowledge is power though, so at least now you know.

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Virtual Field Trip

March 18, 2011 at 11:23 am (Uncategorized) (, , )

With all the news surrounding the issues the people in Japan are facing, I thought it might be worthwhile to share a link with you that I find rather fascinating.  This is a walk through of present day Chernobyl.  Apparently, you can book tours and turn the whole thing into a dismal yet horrifyingly interesting vacation.  There are slews of photos and while it’s a bit long, it makes for a very good read.  I know it’s not exactly what the engineers in Japan are dealing with but it’s somewhat relevant so I wanted to share.

Enjoy the weekend and be thankful you’re not covered in radiation.  When things get rough just remember that it could always be worse!

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This Post Brought to You by the Letter ‘A’

March 16, 2011 at 11:51 am (Uncategorized) (, , , , , , )

…because that’s the grade I earned in my Northwestern class!

Where's my cookie for a job well done?

Our private tour of the Shedd Aquarium last night was pretty awesome and I got to see behind the scenes of their new exhibit, to be unveiled next month (hint: it will be super cool).  My professor emailed today with our grades and I earned 100/100 – and apparently, I was “an absolute pleasure to have in class”.  Not bad for my first official course in four years.

Now I have a three-week break before Round Two and since the weather is finally warming up chances are I won’t have to trudge 2 miles in the snow (no, not uphill but close enough) to get to class.  Unless it decides to snow in May, which I wouldn’t necessarily rule out here.  Still, I’m pretty pumped about my grade and glad a little bit of this course is behind me.  Now who wants to buy this smarty pants a drink?

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March Monday Madness

March 15, 2011 at 12:32 pm (Uncategorized) (, , , , , , , , )

As I mentioned in my last post, I signed my lease on my new apartment yesterday.  In a shocking display of ambition, I also did quite a few other things that had been hanging over my head.  Because I’m just so gosh darn proud of myself, I figured I should document it here:

  • I finished my taxes!  Though I’m still not entirely certain I did them right, they’ve been accepted by the IRS and my refund is pending.

    I seriously love getting to check things off my list

    Woohoo for free money I’ve already paid for!

  • I finished my freelance writing assignments for the month and sent them off.
  • I cleaned out under my bed.  This was huge and something I’d been meaning to do for roughly 1.5 years.  Because I’m so excited about my move, I’ve decided to tackle my apartment a little at a time and the bed was on the list for this week.  I found all kinds of things I’d long since hidden – college research and papers, random photos, love letters from loves gone by and a flashlight I thought I’d lost.  I also found lots of cat hair that Catsby hid too, so that was awesome.  I managed to get rid of 1.5 boxes of stuff and condense just about everything else.
  • Speaking of the flashlight, besides finding what I assumed was long gone, I was able to locate some AAA batteries and get it up and working.  Which came in handy because my power was out this morning (story for another day).
  • I removed a piece of broken furniture from my room and took it to the dumpster.  It’s not horribly busted so hopefully someone will take it and give it a loving home but it was time for it to move on out of my bedroom.
  • I was in the process of removing what I thought was a broken lamp when inspiration struck and I managed to fix it – all by myself!  This is a favorite lamp of mine (it’s in the shape of a monkey, so of course it has a special place in my heart) and it had been broken (or so I stupidly thought) for months.  That means for months I’ve been using my cell phone to read in bed at night.  Well, apparently I’m a rather large idiot because it wasn’t that difficult to fix once I really looked at it.  That’s when I  said, “Let there be light!”
  • I cleaned my bathroom.
  • I talked to a great friend of mine for the first time in what felt like forever and we got nice and caught up.
  • I finished a bottle of wine.

So that last one might not be a huge accomplishment but after everything else I did yesterday (including working my regularly scheduled 8 hours) I felt it was much deserved.

I won’t be near as productive this evening but I will be getting a private tour of the Shedd Aquarium as the last class in the first of 3 courses I’m taking draws to a close.

*Insert joke about Chicago gangsters helping people sleep with the fishes here*.

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