Goodbye 2012

December 31, 2012 at 12:58 pm (Uncategorized) (, , , , , , , )

And another year comes to a close.  Can you believe it’s been 13 years since the year 2000?  I still feel like 1997 was just a few years ago so apparently I have some catching up to do.

Speaking of catching up, I did manage to do lots of that last week while spending Christmas at home.  I ate too many meals out, saw tons of friends and family members, spent some time in a hot tub, got some truly awesome stories on video as told by my grandparents, opened way too many presents and generally had a rocking holiday.  I am blessed, and I know this.  I can’t believe another Christmas has come and gone and I feel extremely lucky that this year left me in an even better spot than last year did.  I can only hope 2013 treats me the same way (though to be honest, I’m not a huge fan of odd-numbered years…but 2011 proved to be one of my best yet so we’ll see what happens).

Here’s to a great one!

In honor of New Year’s Eve, the most overrated holiday of the year, I shall review the resolutions I made this time last year:

  • Write and submit a story – hey, I did this!  I won’t know until sometime in February if it’s actually going to be published or bring me any money, but the fact that I actually committed to writing something longer than a blog post and then followed through with it makes me happy.
  • Leave the country – I did this too!  And I have successfully walked on every continent (sans Antarctica, but I never really wanted to go there anyway.  Okay that’s not true, I’d probably check it out if I could, but since I’m not in the military or a scientist, I’ll be satisfied with the continents I have traveled to.  For now.).
  • Read War and Peace, Crime and Punishment and The Brothers Karamazov – nope, didn’t do any of those things.  I think the English Major in me thought this sounded like a good idea but I never got around to it.  I did read 20-something other books and enjoyed most of them, so that’ll work for me.  Perhaps putting just one of those three on my resolution list for 2013 will seem less daunting?
  • Add money to my savings account – and it has increased!  No matter how much I added, the fact that it’s larger now than it was at the end of 2011 is an improvement.  Right?
  • Keep going to the gym – hey, this is a success too!  And I go without Scott bribing me or dragging my ass, kicking and screaming.  That said, I’m not looking forward to waiting in line for a locker again during the month of January.
  • Take a potential language class – didn’t do this either, but notice how I said potential?  That gives me an out, so I’ll take it!
  • Keep on growing and learning – well to be honest, this one’s a freebie.  So long as I lived to the end of the year, it was sort of a given.  But since I’m still here I’ll go ahead and call it a success!
  • Make out with Joseph Gordon-Levitt…well, the year isn’t technically over yet!

However, since my NYE plans consist of a dinner and drinks with some friends in the neighborhood, it’s likely that the only person I’ll be kissing at midnight is Scott.  And truth be told, he’s a better match for me than JGL any day!

I hope your year treated you well and that the upcoming one will treat you even better.  And for all you boozehounds out there, stay safe and make sure you have a DD!

 

 

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MerryHappy WhateverYouCelebrate

December 21, 2012 at 1:14 pm (Uncategorized) ()

The holidays are upon us!  Though it doesn’t feel like it.  We didn’t get the predicted 6 inches of snow last night that we were warned about – hell, I think Louisville got more snow than Chicago did.  It barely covered car tops and certainly didn’t stick to sidewalks, but that was okay with me since my snow boots are currently under the Christmas tree at my mom’s house.  Hopefully I’ll get to use them after the holidays?  Only time and precipitation amounts will tell.

All week long we’ve had some live music in the lobby of our building and it’s definitely helped to put me in the holiday spirit.  Today is Scott’s birthday so I’ll be making a special dinner tonight before he opens his gifts and then tomorrow morning we’ll be driving down to my mom’s for the week.  I’m super excited to spend some more quality time with my family and friends and since my mom still apparently lives in 1987 (read: no internet at her house), this will be the last blog post until I return.  I know, boo hoo and all that jazz.  Anyway, I hope everyone out there has a great week and that all your holiday wishes come true!  And if your wish was to see a photo of a woman playing a giant harp…well, you’re welcome.

Don't say I never gave you anything.

Don’t say I never gave you anything.

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Just In Case…

December 20, 2012 at 2:33 pm (Uncategorized) (, , , , , )

…you’re someone who actually believes this Mayan End of the World malarky, you should probably read this:

http://www.nasa.gov/topics/earth/features/2012.html

Besides, Australia, China and all those other countries who are a day ahead of us are still around, right?  Or maybe the Mayans were on Central Standard Time.  Regardless, if you’ve quit your job, sold your possessions and cursed out all your friends who called you crazy in anticipation of this apocalypse/zombie-fest/asteroid shower, you’re just going to be unemployed, broke and lonely come tomorrow morning.  But if you’re not convinced, I’d be glad to take some of that life savings off your hands!

And here all I wanted was a chance of snow.

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Treats on a Timeframe

December 19, 2012 at 1:26 pm (Uncategorized) (, , , , , , )

If you’re looking for something quick, easy and delicious to bring to an office party or your family holiday gathering, have I got a recipe for you.  My uncle’s fiance made these over Thanksgiving and I thought she was just about the smartest thing around.  Part of me wondered if this was some ancient family secret of hers but mostly I was happy that she introduced this awesome snack to our clan.  I made a batch of these myself a couple of weeks ago and you can see from the picture how quickly they went.  I made one more batch two nights ago so I can have something cheap yet yummy to pass out to my fellow volunteers at the food pantry and a select group of coworkers.  As I was making Batch #2, I realized the recipe for this amazing treat I’d never seen before this year was actually on the back of the bag of candy I was using.  D’oh.  So this may not come as a new recipe to you but it doesn’t make them any less awesome!

Yeah these are all gone now.

Yeah these are all gone now.

You will need: a bag of pecans, a bag of square pretzels and a bag of Rolos.  And an oven.

Turn the oven on to like 250 or 300 degrees.  Place pretzels on a baking sheet, place one Rolos on top of each pretzel and place one pecan piece on each Rolo.  Place in the oven.  Wait maaaaybe 6 or 7 minutes (basically whenever the chocolate starts to melt).  Remove the baking sheet and place in the fridge to cool.  Unless you want to melt the shelves in your fridge, put an oven mitt down first.  Let cool.  Eat everything.  And if you forget what you’re doing, turn the bag of Rolos over and re-read the recipe there.  Also, don’t forget to turn the oven off.

Yes, it’s incredibly easy but I promise it’s really good too.  I never said I was Betty Crocker, you know.

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December Book Club

December 17, 2012 at 1:08 pm (Uncategorized) (, , , , , , )

As I think I mentioned, our book club skipped last month due to the holiday and the fact that the book we were reading was a little longer than others.  Nine of us were supposed to meet up last week but four actually called in sick and one bowed out of book club completely (which is no shocker…she wasn’t much of a reader to begin with) so there were four of us who made it out.  Ironically, these three other than myself were among the core of the group back when I started three or so years ago and one of them recently returned after a stint of living in Indiana.  It was great to see some old (but young looking!) familiar faces to catch up over good food, good drinks and of course, a good book.

So good, and not good for you...but worth it!

So good, and not good for you…but worth it!

Okay who am I kidding – I enjoy almost every book I read.  I’m easy like that.  This month we read The Marriage Plot by Jeffrey Eugenides, author of The Virgin Suicides and one of my all-time favorites, Middlesex.  This book follows a young woman who recently graduated from college and a male friend of hers who both begin to navigate the real world in their own different ways.  She ends up married to a man with mental illness even after her well-to-do family begs her to reconsider and a lot of her story tells of what she endured as she tried to have the perfect marriage.  Her friend goes on a spiritual journey of his own and winds up backpacking through India while trying to determine if he’s as good a person as everyone else seems to think he is.  Obviously there was a lot more to it than that and while some of the storytelling could have perhaps been shortened, I enjoyed it myself.  Half of the book club in attendance (a whopping 2 women) didn’t get through much of the book and didn’t really care while myself and one other seemed to enjoy it.  Some of the characters were a little annoying and one in particular reminded me of someone I knew a long time ago, but that didn’t really make me like the book any less.  Though I think Middlesex was better.

As for the restaurant, we went to The Southern, which is in a neighborhood a bus ride south from my own.  This is the restaurant I went to with a group of friends for my birthday last year and the dish I had – mac and cheese – is the one I had then.  This is because 1) they are known for their mac and cheese, 2) it’s extremely delicious and 3) there isn’t too much there other than a veggie burger for a vegetarian to enjoy.  I wasn’t disappointed though and ate every bite while downing two beers, to the horror of that teeny tiny part of me that enjoys going to the gym.  Speaking of beer, one member of our party had me try hers, which was something aged in Kentucky bourbon barrels, and it was amazing.  I need to get the name of it from her again because it was tasty, strong, just plain awesome and the second of the beers I imbibed.

As usual, it was a good time on our night out and for next month we’re changing it up a little bit and meeting for Sunday brunch.  I have the next book in my bag and will start it today, so we’ll see if it’s another winner!

 

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Absolutely Horrid

December 14, 2012 at 1:35 pm (Uncategorized) ()

I was going to write about last night’s book club today but I’m about to cry after hearing the news of the elementary school shooting in Connecticut and can’t really think of anything else.  Obviously details are still emerging and we’ll probably never know exactly what happened but what in the hell is wrong with people?  How could someone do such a thing?  I remember when I was in middle and high school and school shootings began to seem…for lack of a better word, popular.  I asked myself these same questions then and I still haven’t come close to figuring it out.  The thought of inflicting that kind of pain and sorrow onto innocent people makes my stomach churn and my eyes well up with tears.

All I can do is send strength, love and peace to the families affected.  And that’s pretty much nothing.  Christmas is in 11 days and they have just had their entire lives ruined in the course of a single morning.  That community is going to have a horrific holiday season and the person responsible seems to be dead.  Motives don’t matter because there is absolutely no sense in what happened here and while it’s probably for the best that the person who caused all of this is no longer around, it doesn’t alleviate any of the pain or sorrow.  I don’t even…there are no words.

May we all hold our loved ones just a bit closer this weekend and realize that life is precious and often, all too short.

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Lou Mitchell’s

December 12, 2012 at 1:53 pm (Uncategorized) (, , , , , , , )

As I mentioned yesterday, Mom and I had a fantastic brunch at an apparent Chicago landmark this weekend, Lou Mitchell’s.  This diner has been serving meals since 1923 and boasts being the beginning point of Route 66.  Presidents have dined there and I’m pretty sure Obama was campaigning there not too long ago, so it’s a popular spot.  That was also evidenced by how freaking busy it was at 1pm Saturday.  We didn’t really have to wait very long but the entire place was hopping and stayed that way until we left.  It’s located only a few blocks from my office so of course it’s going to be tempting me every morning but so far I’ve been able to resist.  I know I won’t be able to say that forever, though.

Outdoor seating?! I’ll be back when the weather warms up!

True to authentic diner fashion,  our server had heavy make-up and big, hair-sprayed hair.  She was really nice and as we were being seated, brought us over two donut holes each.  I guess this is one of their trademarks?  The bread there is baked in-house and the donut holes put anything Dunkin Donuts could ever come up with to SHAME.  They were huge and delicious.  We were also given boxes of Milk Duds, because apparently all women and children receive that candy upon entering the establishment.  Trust me, we weren’t complaining.

I ordered a pancake, omelette and side of fried potatoes, all which were served in large portions.  Mom had some egg dish with bacon and raisin toast, which was pretty much the thickest and most savory toast I’ve ever had in my life.  Our waitress kept the coffee flowing and there was delicious maple syrup on the table for me to drench my pancake in.  The entire meal was seriously delicious and just when I thought I couldn’t eat another bite, they brought us free, individual servings of ice cream for desert.  Talk about melting my heart!  And the price was reasonable – I think Mom and I both ate our hearts out for around $30.

If you’re ever in the neighborhood, I highly recommend this place.  It’s comfortable, tasty and historic so what’s not to like?  Of course, if you’re going to go please let me know.  I can’t think of a better reason to be late to work!

 

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Bring on the Holidays!

December 11, 2012 at 1:27 pm (Uncategorized) (, , , , , , , )

Last week was an extremely busy one at the office (hence my lack of Friday post) and it was followed by an extremely busy weekend.  My mom came in town for our annual December downtown shopping excursion and we pretty much wore ourselves out.  We spent Friday eating at a restaurant where Mom had a dinner that did NOT include meat (which I think she actually liked!), spent Saturday doing our shopping then watching some IU basketball in a neighborhood bar and then Sunday she met Scott’s parents when we all went out for brunch.  Speaking of brunch, we ate at a great little diner Saturday morning and it was so good it will probably get it’s own blog post later this week.  We also passed a huge bar crawl featuring a couple of hundred people dressed as Santa Clause, which is featured in here.

Santas as far as they eye can see!

Santas as far as they eye can see!

It looked like fun but all I could think about is how glad I was that I wasn’t tending bar at any of their stops that morning.  Brunch with all the parents went well too, even though the first place we tried was closed and we had to walk back in the rain and then deal with Scott’s shrieking car alarm before being able to go someplace else.  It all worked out though and the rest of the weekend went well.  I actually took yesterday off of work for doctor’s appointments/recuperation purposes so I’m glad Monday is over and I’m pretty sure I can handle the rest of the week.

Which is good, because it’s going to be busy too.  This has to do with the fact that I’ve got the food pantry and my book club this week, plus the Field Museum on Saturday.  Luckily, not much of the busyness has to do with the holidays.  I pretty much finished all my shopping with Mom and I’m caught up with wrapping for the moment, plus I’m about halfway through my holiday cards.  Yup, I’m feeling pretty proud of myself and on top of things, which is good considering Christmas is 14 days away!

And yet, my next holiday vacation can’t come soon enough…

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Dirty Jobs

December 5, 2012 at 3:31 pm (Uncategorized) (, , , )

IMAG0437

I encountered the above sight as I walked to the restroom earlier today.  I’m not really sure what this guy’s job is but it appeared to me that he was painting/tarring/shellacking part of the roof of The Tower Formerly Known as Sears.  As I’ve mentioned, I’m on the 51st floor so this guy’s task was nothing to laugh at.  I was really glad to see that he was tethered to the building because I probably would’ve wet my pants if he wasn’t.  I had a hard time even looking at him and I can only imagine that his balls of steel and  apparent lack of fear of heights helped him to finish his job, whatever exactly it was.  A strong gust of wind, such as what this city is known for, could have easily knocked him off his little perch and then what would he do?  Such is the type of thought that ran through my head as I stood, creepily staring at him and giving thanks for the fact that I could turn around and sit behind my desk.  I might climb to his height for the sheer thrill of it but I would rather not have to do so all day long in order to get a paycheck.  Give me my cubicle, any day.

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Pop Pop Fizz Fizz

December 3, 2012 at 2:40 pm (Uncategorized) (, , , , , , , )

Friday night I was part of something I haven’t been a part of in a good long while – a Girl’s Night Out.  A friend of mine recently turned 31 and a group of us met at her place for some wine before heading downtown to Pops for Champagne, a fancy-schmancy champagne bar.  We all got dressed up (I even wore a new dress!) and gathered around a table to enjoy some light snacks and a huge bottle of champagne.  And, from looking at the scale shown, this wasn’t really considered a “big” bottle. There were five of us girls total and it took us a fair bit of time to kill it all, after which we were all feeling…well, fizzy.  The bar itself wasn’t one that I would frequent very often because 1) I don’t go to fancy bars all that much, 2) it wasn’t exactly cheap, 3) it’s far from the local dive bars in my neighborhood and 4) the majority of the people there were kind of snobby.  I’m really glad I went though because it was a blast, though I wish they had let one of us pop the cork instead of discreetly doing so in a cloth napkin.

Well, I thought a Magnum was big...

Well, I THOUGHT a Magnum was big…

By the time we finished our food and the biggest bottle of champagne I’ve ever had the pleasure of enjoying, I knew I needed to head home.  My five-hour stint at the Field Museum was going to come quicker than I wanted and trying to sound engaging and educational while really hung over isn’t something I wanted to experience.  So I bowed out early and I later learned that the others had a night which culminated in two other bars, buckets of booze, shots, someone throwing up and everyone almost walking out on a tab.  While that sounds entertaining, I’m kind of glad I wasn’t around to see it.

The rest of my weekend was a blur of museum stuff; driving around for nearly two hours trying to find parking for Lincoln Park Zoo’s Zoo Lights (Scott and I wound up giving up to the parking gods and we’re going to try again, but next time we’re taking the bus); brunch with a friend of mine from Kindergarten who was in town; an expensive trip to Target (though aren’t they always…); grocery shopping; cleaning my bathroom so well that I thought I was going to pass out from the fumes and watching the mid-season finale of The Walking Dead.  Which makes me wonder – just when the hell did a MID season finale become a thing?  Thanks a lot, cable.  And 65 degrees in December?  Thanks a lot, global warming.  At least it was warm enough for me to wear my new dress!

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