Nothing to Complain About

January 30, 2013 at 2:17 pm (Uncategorized) (, , , )

Sonofa…

Okay so I know this isn’t that big of a deal and in the grand scheme of things I shouldn’t really be complaining but I’m going to anyway.  I took a blouse to the dry cleaners a few weeks ago to have  a button sewn on (yes, Mom, I know I should learn how to do this myself).  I picked it up and it was all clean and pressed and in plastic and I took it home.  Then I forgot about it, until I went to put it on this morning.  I had given myself my usual teeny tiny amount of time to get ready and knew if I did something as drastic as changing my outfit, I’d be late.  So when I realized that my blouse was still missing a damn button, I thought I was screwed.  Luckily I put on a chunky necklace that pretty much hides the absent button and went on my day, but not before I raged a little in my head.  Didn’t I just pay that place $2 to put the thing on?  Why yes, yes I did.  Sometime soon they will be sewing a button on this shirt and they will be doing it for free.  Until then, please don’t look under my necklace.

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Wacky World of Weather

January 29, 2013 at 2:03 am (Uncategorized) (, , , , , , , )

Having lived all my life in the mid-west, I’m used to some random weather.  I’ve seen snow a day after sunshine and temperatures in the 70’s, hid in basements during tornadoes and even heard the elusive thundersnow during the Chicago Snowpacolypse.  Still, strange weather manages to grab my attention and seems a little noteworthy.  For instance, in the past 48 hours I’ve walked in: rain, hail, freezing rain, snow, fog and lots and lots of wind.  Sunday night there was thunder and lightning during a torrential downpour.  This was called a “wintry mix”, which is about the most vague description of weather that once can come up with, making it perfect for Chicago.  Today is supposed to be in the 60’s…for it being the end of January, that really is strange.  Too bad there’s more thunder, lightning and possibly tornadoes instead of sunshine (sure going to make my evening commute fun).  The high of 15 on Friday is more like what I’m used to for this time of year but it’s not exactly something I’m looking forward to.

And then this happens when a building catches on fire and it’s well below freezing outside.

My dad told me that it was in the 80’s down in Louisiana last week and that he had to turn on the air conditioning in his truck.  I told him to bite me.

So when will it end?  It won’t.  And I really do try to accept that fact and just deal with the weather as it comes but sometimes it’s just so difficult.  Much like trying to plan outfits that correspond to climate.

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All They Wanted To Do Was Dance

January 28, 2013 at 1:11 pm (Uncategorized) (, , )

If you think your Monday is rough, allow me to give a little perspective..  At least 231 people died last night in a Brazilian nightclub after a fire broke out and they were unable to escape through the single exit available.  I’m shuddering at the mere thought of the panic, chaos and utter hell this must have been.  I don’t think authorities yet know exactly what happened but one thing is clear – they needed more emergency exits.  I know that similar things have happened before (like the fire in the Rhode Island club in 2003 that killed nearly 100) but that doesn’t make it any more forgivable or acceptable.  These people just wanted to go out and have a good time and now they’re laying in coffins in a gymnasium that has turned into a makeshift morgue, because it’s the only place in town that can hold this insane number of bodies.

I know this is a depressing topic but life can be depressing and the families and loved ones of these victims are probably feeling about as gutted as the building the fire took place in.  I can’t imagine what they’re all going through and the stories I’ve read (such as the brothers who did not come home to a family where they were the only children) pretty much break my heart.  I realize there’s nothing concrete that you or me or really anyone can do to “fix” it but this tragedy does put my own Monday bitching and moaning into its place.  Shitty things happen in this world – to good, undeserving people – and I guess the best I can do is send some healing vibes in their general direction while holding my own loved ones a little closer to my heart.

 

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January Book Club Review

January 25, 2013 at 12:55 pm (Uncategorized) (, , , , )

Our book club met for brunch last Sunday, the day after the bachelorette party.  I was worried I wouldn’t be in tip-top shape for literary discussions but I was feeling decent and braved the cold to go to Old Town Social, a restaurant on North Avenue.  The turnout was one of the best we’ve had in recent months and we even had a new member, so there was a grand total of seven of us there.  That makes it a little more difficult to hear everyone out (or merely hear everyone at all) but is also a little more entertaining, so we were all chatty and content.

Good, clean fun!

I’d never been to the restaurant and I have to admit, it was kind of a let-down overall.  Our server took our drink orders before reappearing with another server who made a comment about how the first girl was training but almost finished (I’m not sure how she managed this but the comment sounded kind of snotty and sort of made us uncomfortable).  We all ordered and then the waitresses disappeared for a while before some dude we’d never seen before brought out the food (which isn’t uncommon).  Most of us had some sort of biscuit or bread as a side and there was one little dish of jam, so we requested more.  He gave us attitude and rolled his eyes so we didn’t figure we’d get it and asked our waitress for it when she came back.  She did indeed bring us two more little cups of jam (for the table of 7) and then when we got the bill we noticed that we’d been charged 50 cents for each little cup.  It’s not like it was a hundred dollars or anything but really?  Charging for something to top our biscuits with?  Whatever.  The food was decent enough but there sure wasn’t much of it for the $12 I paid – and I ordered the “big” breakfast!  It came with a biscuit, two eggs and a hash brown casserole.  It was all tasty but the portions were just lacking and nothing I couldn’t have made at home.

At least the company and the book were better!  We read Where’d you go, Bernadette?, a novel by Maria Semple.  The book was told through a series of letters, emails, faxes, notes and  text messages and focuses on a teenage girl who’s trying to find her mother after her mother had a bit of a psychotic break.  Really, though, the mom was always a little eccentric and circumstances made it seem like she had less of a grasp on reality than she actually did, so she up and disappeared.  The reader doesn’t know where she went until the daughter figures it out and the mom’s around for the first two-thirds of the book so it’s not a whole mystery novel.  It was quick and easy though and very entertaining.  I honestly didn’t see many of the plot points coming and I really liked the characters of both the mom and daughter.  The dad was someone who was hit or miss and while I liked him initially, I felt a few things he went through were out of character for the way they set him up.  Regardless, I really enjoyed the whole book, as did many of the girls in the club (those who had finished, at least).  Definitely one I recommend and an especially good book club book!

 

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Soup’s On!

January 24, 2013 at 12:09 pm (Uncategorized) (, , , , , , , )

In an effort to stay warm during this cold snap and also in an effort to kick the ass of the cold that tried to attack me earlier this week, I’ve been eating a lot of soup.  Like, a lot.  I even made some on my own in my handy-dandy crock pot and it turned out so well I figured I might as well share.  And it was so easy!

Crock pots are wonderful because you can just throw everything in, turn it on and go to sleep (which is exactly what I did on Tuesday night).  I always forget how simple it is to cook in a crock pot but this was a good reminder.  To get started, I raided the fridge, freezer and cabinet and grabbed anything that looked halfway decent.  You can do the same, or just use what I did:

  • vegetable broth

    Campbell's has nothing on me.

    Campbell’s has nothing on me.

  • spinach
  • frozen leeks
  • two cans of vegetable lentil soup
  • one can of black beans
  • frozen vegetables from a bag
  • vegetarian Italian sausage
  • pre-cooked quinoa

Every single thing on my list is available at Trader Joe’s, in case you’re curious/hungry/cheap like me.  Anyway, I really just dumped all this into the crock pot, turned it on for 8 hrs and walked away.  When I woke up in the morning my entire apartment smelled delicious and I brought some with me to lunch for the day.  And not to brag or anything, but this was the best damn soup I’ve ever made.  Maybe the best soup that anyone, ever, has ever made, anywhere.  Or maybe not, but it was still very good.

However, it does not look good when it leaks out of its container in your bag onto the ass of the jeans that you brought with you to wear out after work.  In that case, it looks like someone had an accident and needs a diaper.  Just letting you know.

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Brr.

January 22, 2013 at 9:42 am (Uncategorized) (, )

When I left for work this morning, the temperature was 0 degrees and the wind chill was -11.  Here is what I wore:

  • One pair of knee socks
  • One pair of regular socks
  • Long underwear
  • Slacks
  • One sweater
  • One large turtleneck over the sweater
  • One large coat
  • Fleece gloves
  • A hat that nearly covered my eyes
  • A huge scarf/shawl thing that I wrapped up over my mouth and nose.
  • A grimace.

I looked something like this:

Man? Woman? Cyborg? It’s anyone’s guess!

I love Chicago but damn.  It’s cold.  I can only hope everyone stays as warm as possible until this snap ends.

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Girl’s Night Out

January 21, 2013 at 1:40 pm (Uncategorized) (, , , , , , , , )

This weekend, I went to my second ever bachelorette party.  The only one I’d ever been to before (which I’m pretty sure I blogged about at some point) was a couple of years ago when a group of girls and I went out in Indianapolis for a night of pizza and hanging out a bar.  It was fun and low-key, but low-key was definitely something Saturday night’s party was not!

There were six of us besides the bride-to-be and most of them met for manicures in the late afternoon.

This is honestly the tamest photo from the evening.

This is honestly the tamest photo from the evening.

I had a previous commitment (not to mention budget restrictions) so I met them all at the tail end of their session and we headed back to a downtown hotel, where we had booked a suite for the night.  We commenced with doing our hair and make-up while drinking wine and champagne, then grabbed a cab and went to BIN 36, a wine and tapas bar near the House of Blues.  The drinks were good (especially their J&J cocktail, which of course we had to order since the lady of the hour and her fiance both have names that start with the letter ‘J’) as was the other small plates that we ordered, but to be honest a tapas restaurant isn’t the best plan for dinner before a night of heavy drinking.  Luckily I had figured that beforehand and had a sandwich before meeting up, so all was good.

After dinner, we headed to a nightclub where they were supposed to be featuring a male revue.  Apparently they moved it at the last minute so we hailed another cab and went to Lincoln Park, where the show was in full swing.  Now, the only male strippers I’ve ever seen were in the French Quarter in New Orleans and to be honest, my memory of that evening is somewhat hazy at best.  I don’t know what I was expecting but this show was raunchy as hell and surprised me just a bit.  And I’m not easily surprised.  We bought our friend a lap dance and the guy literally picked her up and threw her on a bed that was in the VIP area we were sitting in, then proceeded to hump her face and grind on places I didn’t even know where grindable.  It was pretty hilarious, to be honest.  Other men were walking around and dancing for the hoards of screaming women in the seats while a different guy was dancing on stage while utilizing chairs and other props.  It was all very…entertaining…but I kept my money to myself and only spent it on drinks throughout the evening.  Once the show was over the whole place turned into a nightclub, which promptly reminded me how much I hate clubs to begin with.  While the immediate company was great and we had fun dancing, the music was horrible and the drinks were overpriced.  At one point I laughed in some guy’s face after he came up behind me, put his hands on my hips and dropped some horrible line.  I think he got the point.

We were going to go to another club after we left the first one but there was a line out the door and it was roughly 5 degrees, so we headed back to the hotel.  We ordered a huge, greasy pizza (the smartest move of the evening, in my opinion), opened another bottle of wine and played a revealing game of Never Have I Ever.  No purses or stomach contents were lost and we all had a good time so I’d say it was a successful evening all around!  And who knows, perhaps even the over-muscled, grabby dude I laughed at found love that evening.

 

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Have Train, Mouth Will Travel

January 18, 2013 at 2:21 pm (Uncategorized) (, , , , , , , , , , )

As any consistent reader of my blog knows, riding public transportation can be quite entertaining and/or frustrating.  I’m constantly privy to other people’s bad taste in music, conversations and body odors and all for the low, low price of $100/month.  I was riding home Wednesday evening when some guy sat down across the aisle from me and continued his overly loud cell phone call.  Here are just a few things I learned before I got off at my stop:

  • Train Guy was on his way to see his girl.  They were getting dinner.
  • He drank way too much Miller High Life last weekend and had the worst hangover of his life.  Even worse than the one he had at David’s house last year.
  • He was bringing beer “for the big boys” to the upcoming Friday night party.  Corona, to be exact.
  • He didn’t want to drink as much this week and if he was going to take shots, he’d be taking them early in the night.  Whiskey.  However, he knew that Phone Dude #1 would be getting “SHIZ-FACED!”.
  • He wanted to know if  Phone Dude #1 (the host, apparently) had thought about “Boooo-duuuuh” (Buddha?  Boodah?  insert other spellings for marijuana here).  Because if not, Train Guy would gladly bring a blunt instead of the man-beer, Corona.  They could smoke it in the backyard.  So think about it.
  • He also loved Django Unchained and thinks “it’s the best Tarantino movie, like ever.  Gory as f*ck and SO GOOD.”

Close enough.

Those were the highlights from his first conversation.  Then he called whom I can only assume was his drug dealer:

  • Train Guy wanted to be picked up from work on Friday by Phone Dude #2 (aka the dealer).  He has Phone Dude #2’s money.  Also, Train Guy “wants to pick up….uhhh….ahhhh….” Then silence.  Then, “Did you get that, man?”  Yes, Train Dude.  We all got it.  You want more drugs.

That conversation didn’t go the way he wanted and he sounded let down/depressed/in withdrawal when he hung up the phone.  Then he made the last phone call that I heard before I hopped off the train (mind you, this all happened in about 20 minutes).  This was to his girlfriend (Phone Dudette #1).  I must note that I had to laugh when I heard his voice drop in pitch so he sounded older and more mysterious:

  • Poor Train Guy is tired.  He’s worked all day and taking the train alllll the way out to see his girlfriend for dinner is such a hassle.  He hopes she appreciates this.
  • He also wants to know the chances of her coming back to his place later that night.  Because if she’s not going to be around, he’s not going to sit at home alone and wants to know so he can make other plans.

Train Guy seems like a real catch.  I feel privileged that I got such a glimpse into his fascinating life, and I’m sure everyone else on the train that night felt exactly the same way.

 

 

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Breaking Bread

January 16, 2013 at 3:55 pm (Uncategorized) (, , , , )

One of the gifts my lovely mother gave Scott and me for Christmas was a box full of new baking pans.  Since the baking sheet I had was from like 1974, this was a welcome present.  Included in this package was a bread loaf pan, something I’ve never had before.  That meant I could actually make banana bread, as opposed to banana muffins (which are still good but sometimes a pain to peel from the little muffin liner).  Anyway, I put the pan to good use on Monday night:

So good!

Voila!

Here’s what I did:

Ingredients: 3 ripe bananas, 1/3 melted butter, 3/4 cup sugar, 1 egg, 1 teaspoon vanilla, sprinkling of cinnamon, 1 teaspoon baking soda, pinch of salt and 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour.  I used non-dairy butter and a Splenda-like sugar substitute so I can pretend this is somewhat healthier.

After preheating the oven to 350 degrees, I mixed the butter into the mashed bananas while doing a little dance to The Monster Mash in my head.  Then I mixed in the egg, sugar and spices.  After that came the baking soda and salt, then finally the flour.  I poured it all into my brand new (and newly washed) loaf pan and stuck it in the oven.  It said to let it bake for an hour but after 45 minutes I got impatient and nosy so I took a peek.  It’s a good thing I did because it was already cooked to perfection (as you can clearly see above).  It tasted as good as it looked!  And I couldn’t have done it without my awesome new bread pan.  Maybe I’ll experiment with zucchini bread next time?  I’m crazy like that!

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Chicago Symphony Orchestra

January 14, 2013 at 12:26 pm (Uncategorized) (, , , , , )

We came, we saw, we listened.

Saturday, Scott and I used our free tickets to the Chicago Symphony Orchestra and braved winds and rain while wearing our finest.  It was quite the experience.  Neither of us had ever seen an orchestra before and it’s pretty amazing to watch dozens of people in tune with one another and moving their bows, fingers and strings in perfect harmony.  We saw music as written by Beethoven and the musicians were all so talented it made me sad that I never had my aunt teach me the piano when I was a kid.  Scott and I vowed that if we ever have children, they’re definitely learning to play an instrument.  Seriously, I can’t even begin to imagine the time and effort it takes to become as good at something as those musicians were.  They all were completely into their performances, so much so that at one point we were certain one guy in particular would put the eye out of the woman playing next to him.  Thankfully, that did not happen.  Given our great seats, we would’ve seen it all.

Photo taken before the concert started because I am not a rude jackass.

Photo taken before the concert started because I am not a rude jackass.

After one of the sets, the raised platform that the conductor had been conducting on sank into the ground, which was pretty cool in itself.  Even cooler, they put a piano on it and brought the whole level back up so the next guy could hit the keys.  That was one of my favorite parts because the piano added a little something extra.  I also liked the guy on the big drum in the back and all of the huge guitars whose name I don’t really know but…well, the instruments look like big guitars.  Shows you how much good my band class in middle school did me.

The only drawback to the evening was the guy sitting next to me (not Scott!).  His breathing was labored and very loud and I even heard him snoring lightly a few times during the performance.  I wasn’t sure what the social protocol was on something like that and he was by himself so I couldn’t give the stink eye to his date.  He was also really overweight so maybe he wasn’t snoring and just had his eyes closed listening to the music?  But it seemed like he was snoozing.  I felt bad for him because he was alone so I made up a story that he has some rare illness that causes him to be an insomniac except when he’s listening to expensive classical music in a pubic setting, and that helped me feel a little better.  Perhaps that was the only good rest he got all week.  Other than him, most everyone was quiet throughout the performances and as soon as the sets were over people let loose with their coughing, sniffling and general whispering.  Kind of funny, to be honest.

I also made friends with some older lady in the line for the bathroom at intermission and found out she used to be a docent in Ohio and once thought about retiring in Bloomington, Indiana, where I went to college.  Small world!

Scott and I had a lovely evening but would probably not become season ticket holders anytime soon, mostly because we have rent to pay.  Not a bad way to pass a few hours for free though, and definitely an experience everyone should have at least once!

 

 

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