Happy Halloween!

October 31, 2013 at 10:32 am (Uncategorized) (, , , )

Ah, the scariest day of the year.  I’ve been dealing with a scary week at work so I feel like nothing can phase me and to be honest, I wasn’t really planning on going out tonight.  However, a couple of friends will be trekking around Boystown and have convinced me to join them so it looks like I need to come up with a quick and easy costume, stat.  Alas, Scott won’t dress up like Ron from Harry Potter to match my Hermione so I’m forced to come up with something else.  Here are my ideas:

  • Blackhawks player – I have a jersey and black tights.  Done.
  • A witch – I have a long, grey wig.  And a broom.
  • Leftovers – I have tin foil I can wrap around my stomach.
  • A construction worker – I can borrow Scott’s tool belt and hard hat.  For some reason he wasn’t too keen on the idea of dressing up in that and walking around the gayest neighborhood in the city himself.
  • A quarter back – I can tape a quarter to my back.
  • A quarter pounder – I can carry a quarter in one hand and a hammer in the other.
  • Pregnant – I have pillows!
  • CD Burner – I can tape an old CD to my shirt and carry a lighter.

Be safe tonight! Don’t let the boogeyman get you!

Surely with these ingenious and super lazy ideas I can come up with something!  And if I want to be truly terrifying, I can just carry around a copy of my last student loan statement.

Have a Happy Halloween!

 

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It’s That Time Again

October 29, 2013 at 12:52 pm (Uncategorized) (, , , , )

I went home over the weekend and came back to Chicago with yet another sinus/head cold thing that is making me miserable.  The same thing happened the last time I went to Indiana and I’m just not sure why.  Does it have something to do with the jam-packed schedule I plan for myself?  Why yes, most likely it does.  I left Friday after work and before I came back on Sunday evening, I’d accomplished the following:

  • 2 5 hour car rides
  • 2 brunches with 6 different people
  • 1 fish fry, 1 housewarming and 1 birthday party across 2 states, where I got to see 18 family members and a ton of people I don’t know
  • 5 loads of laundry (thanks, Mom!)
  • 2 separate visits with my grandparents that featured 2 milkshakes and 6 donuts
  • 1 visit with an uncle and 2 donuts
  • 2 bridesmaid dresses tried on for 1 wedding I’ll be in next summer
  • 2 bottles of wine drained

There was a lot more but my head hurts just thinking about it.  I did see gas for $3.15 a gallon and that was something new and different for me so I made note of it.  I also found graffiti I wrote on the underside of a pool table over a dozen years ago and was glad to see it hadn’t changed – not even my signature.  It’s nice to be able to count on some things.

Like getting sick after such a hectic weekend.  I should be used to it but given the poor-me tone of this post, I’m obviously not.  So I’ll keep downing vitamins and tea while hoping I can boost my immune system to make it through the upcoming holidays.  Because not even illness will slow me down – a sore throat and head full of mucus is worth it to see my family!  Although they might not feel the same way…

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Foodie Friday!

October 25, 2013 at 11:44 am (Uncategorized) (, )

Since the weather has been stupidly cold, the crock pot was busted out this week.  If I’m going to be honest I should mention that I had nothing whatsoever to do with cooking today’s featured meal – it was all Scott.  I was going to post about the dinner party I had last weekend but I left the recipes I used at home and kind of wanted to include them, so Scott’s meal it is.  Trust me though, the soup is definitely worth a mention!

Seriously, who doesn’t love the crock pot?  You just dump a bunch of stuff in and then go about your merry way until it’s time to eat.  Those rules definitely applied here:

Soup's on!

Soup’s on!

Like my fun Halloween decorations?

So here’s what was included:  carrots, peas, corn, green beans, broccoli, mushrooms, red peppers, black eye peas, brussel sprouts, potatoes and lots of quinoa.  Most of the veggies were actually frozen to begin with but the crock pot doesn’t care about silly things like that.  Scott threw this together in some vegetable broth on Monday night and we both enjoyed leftovers for lunch and dinner all week.  It was the perfect way to warm up and he has earned himself the honor of all crock pot cooking for the rest of the winter!

Oh well, a girl can dream…

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1893 World’s Fair

October 24, 2013 at 12:49 pm (Uncategorized) (, , , , , , , )

You can't really tell but the people in the background were moving around.  So cool!

You can’t really tell but the people in the background were walking about. So cool!

If you’ve ever read the book Devil in the White City, you’re probably familiar with the 1893 Columbian Exposition, or World’s Fair, that took place in Chicago to celebrate the 400th anniversary of Columbus’ arrival to the New World.  If you have no idea what I’m talking about, you should because it was kind of a big deal.  Chicago had just endured the Great Fire a little over 20 years before the fair and we were up against New York for the bid to host.  At this point in history, Chicago was mainly considered an industrial city with no real culture to speak of.  At least, that’s how New Yorkers felt.  When we beat them for the hosting opportunity it created a bit of a scandal because this fair was supposed to show how ahead of the times the United States was (the previous World’s Fair was in Paris and debuted the Eiffel Tower, so there was a lot to live up to).  So we won and Chicago architects got to work, basically putting together an entirely new city in a few years.  And I mean that literally – the fair took place over about 600 acres and new buildings were erected just for the fair.  They weren’t expected to outlast the event and most did not, with the exception of the Museum of Science and Industry Building.  It was pretty impressive and basically blew everyone away.

The Field Museum was basically founded off of the contents of the fair, as many of the cultural artifacts procured were donated to form a permanent collection.  To highlight this, the Field put together their own brand new temporary exhibit that is all about the World’s Fair (and no, it does not touch on the murderous man featured in Devil in the White City…).  We docents were trained on it over the weekend and it was extremely cool.  There are artifacts there that have not been seen in over 100 years and the exhibit really makes you feel like you’re back in 1893 and wandering through on your own.  Many products we know and love had their first exposure in the Fair: Cracker Jack, Aunt Jemima, modern electricity, Shredded Wheat, PBR beer and the Ferris Wheel.  Yup, the Ferris Wheel, which was the USA response to the Eiffel Tower.  The very first one ever was seen at the Fair and stood 250 feet tall while holding over 2,000 people at once.  There were roughly 35 giant train sized cars that held about 60 people each and it took nearly 20 minutes for one rotation.  It was bigger than the Ferris Wheel at Navy Pier today by about 100 feet, if you can imagine that.  And we have no reports of anyone dying while riding it!  Amazing indeed.

It’s interesting because the way that the anthropologists went about getting collections back then is NOT how they do it today.  Their view was more ethnocentric back in the day, meaning that if something or someone was even the slightest bit strange, it was deemed “exotic” i.e. “savage” or “barbaric”.  This lead to cultural insensitivity in now-shocking proportions.  For example, people from other cultures and countries were basically brought to Chicago to live and show what their life was like – they were on display 24/7 during the fair and not exactly given a boat ticket home after that.  It’s appalling to us nowadays but the exhibit does a decent job of giving us the whole truth, as ugly as it is.  See, back then scientists genuinely thought that other cultures were dying out and we had to take what we could to preserve them for future generations.  This is obviously not the case but in the age before the internet or TV, it was hard to showcase different plants, animals, people or places without having tangible evidence and so people tried to justify it.  It was certainly not the right way to go about things and I was glad it was addressed in the exhibit.

Even the water and flags moved around!

Even the water and flags moved around!

Also in the Field’s exhibit are giant screens projecting moving photographs.  This was one of my favorite parts.  They basically took photos of the fair, dressed people in time period clothing and placed them in front of green screens and then digitized it using fancy computer technology so that it looks like these old time photos are videos.  All of us docents were kind of blown away by that in particular.

There are many things to see and experience in this exhibit but don’t take my word for it – the entire thing runs until September 2014 so there’s plenty of time to check it out!

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October Book Club Review

October 22, 2013 at 2:25 pm (Uncategorized) (, , , , )

We had a smaller group than normal because one of our regulars was unable to make it but the three of us who showed up managed to have a really good time.  We went to Jaiyen-Sushi n Noodle in Boystown because we all had a hankering for some sushi – and we were not disappointed!  I made a reservation just in case and we were seated next to two really large aquariums, which was a nice touch and gave good ambiance.

Oh, you guys!

The restaurant is BYOB so we all pulled out our beer and wine and enjoyed not having to pay a corking fee.  I know that as a vegetarian my views on sushi experiences are somewhat limited but I enjoy the heck out of a good roll and this place provided lots of those.  I had a sweet potato roll along with one full of avocado while another gal had one stuffed with asparagus (those were the only ones on the table I tried).  They were all really good but the sweet potato took home the cake.  It had cream cheese and other vegetables and I seriously almost ordered a third roll but I didn’t want to keep us there all evening.  Which translates as: I will be going back with my own bottle of wine to keep myself there all evening sometime soon.

To get us in the Halloween spirit, we read Interview with a Vampire by Anne Rice.  The only other Anne Rice novel I’ve read before was the series The Witching Hour.  I really enjoyed that first book but by the time I was three books into that trilogy, I was over it.  Interview was based in the same world and a lot of it took place in New Orleans, which I always appreciate.  I’ve seen the memorable movie with Tom Cruise, Brad Pitt and Kirsten Dunst but it’s been many years so I didn’t really remember specific plot points.  The story is based on a vampire telling his life story over the course of an evening to a journalist who records their talk on tape.  It’s a good premise and certainly was fascinating to read about the early life of this vampire but to be honest, I felt the vampire himself was a little…boring.  He retained a lot of his humanity and it made it hard to remember he was supposed to be this monster who preys on human flesh.  The story he told really dragged on towards the end and some of his moral issues were honestly a little dull to me.  I did like some of his interactions with other vampires and his “daughter” especially and I also liked how the setting took place in a few locations.  I enjoyed the ending too and can see how it set up for the next books in the series.

All in all, another good book club night.  I think the next place we’re going is BYOB too so that’s just something else to look forward to!

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Case of the Mondays

October 21, 2013 at 2:01 pm (Uncategorized) ()

The dinner party was a success!  I’ll post more about it later in the week.  Between entertaining friends until early Sunday morning and then spending eight straight hours at the museum for a new training seminar on Sunday, I’m beat.

When I woke up today, the sky was very dark and the temperature hovered in the low 40’s.  As much as I love fall, I am not ready for the upcoming crappy weather and dark days/nights.

Plus, it’s Monday.  Everyone hates Mondays.  They make me wake up feeling like this:

The Dude feels my pain.

The Dude feels my pain.

I’m tired and cranky and want to go home and crawl under my covers.  Alas, I have that pesky job thing that gets in the way of my sleeping all day.

I hope my cat knows how lucky he is!

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Table for Six

October 18, 2013 at 1:51 pm (Uncategorized) (, , , , )

Scott and I are hosting a dinner party tomorrow night.  We’re having over my newly pregnant friend and her husband, along with an old college buddy of mine and the new guy he’s dating.  I’m really excited to introduce all of my friends to each other and we’re going to watch The Witches of Eastwick after we eat so I don’t see how anything could possibly go wrong.  Unless I mess up the meal, that is!

I’ve never cooked for six people before so it’s a little intimidating.  It’ll also be extra interesting because our table only sits four so we’ll be doing some improvising when it comes to seating arrangements.  Thank god for folding chairs, right?  I’m pretty sure we’ll all fit so now it’s a matter of making a tasty meal that everyone (even my dairy-free boyfriend) can enjoy.  Luckily, I have the internet and it helped me come up with some ideas.

Let’s Dinner Party!

Here’s what’s on the menu:

  • Toasted baguette sandwiches featuring marinated eggplant, zucchini, provolone cheese, pesto and tomatoes
  • Mashed cauliflower with chives and roasted garlic
  • Macaroni and cheese with red and yellow peppers and spinach.  This is actually vegan and the “cheese” sauce I found includes cannellini beans and a sweet potato, among other things.  I’m a little nervous about this especially since I love me some good old-fashioned regular processed cheese food product but this got great reviews and looks pretty good so I’m going to just go for it.

I also found a recipe that calls for baking macaroni and cheese in muffin cups so you wind up with mac and cheese muffins.  I’m going to throw all caution to the wind and just incorporate one recipe with the other and see what happens.

Hopefully it will be the best meal anyone has ever had in their entire life but if not, I can always order pizza.  And at least Jack Nicholson, Cher, Michelle Pfeiffer and Susan Sarandon will be around to keep us company!

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Moving and Shaking

October 16, 2013 at 9:03 am (Uncategorized) (, , , , , )

Scott and I were struck by some kind of invisible rearranging monster on Monday night and we decided to completely move around the living room.  This was a bad idea.  We had a grand plan of moving the couch and armchair to totally different walls, incorporating a new(ish) coffee table and placing the TV in an entirely different location.  We were pretty pumped because we really thought it would look good, plus it’s been about 2 years since we rearranged anything and it felt like it was time.  So I came home from a long day of work and started shuffling stuff around.

Been there.

Perhaps it was because it had been 2 years since we had done anything like this that we forgot just what a pain in the ass it is to entirely shift a living room.  We managed to move the furniture to its intended spot (vacuuming mounds of cat hair and throwing out whatever trash had accumulated under our couch along the way) and at that point I was ready to hook up the TV and relax.  Scott was in a frenzy and unplugged the cable, TV, DVD player, computers and internet in one fell swoop and we braced ourselves to move the screen.  That’s when we noticed the cable cord wouldn’t extend another two inches, let alone the 10 or so feet we needed it to.

Oh, that’s right.  There was a reason the TV had always been in the same basic spot and the shortness of the cable cord was it.

So Scott called Comcast to see if they sold longer cords but they don’t.  He then asked me to get online to look up the number to the nearby RadioShack (yes, they still exist), having completely forgotten that he had just disconnected the internet and the cord to hook it back up was in a nightmare of a tangled cord web.  Luckily in this age of smartphones we were able to find the number we needed but they also didn’t have a long enough cord.  So we tried the Sears down the street but they transferred Scott to the national line and that certainly didn’t help.  In the end he found the cord at Best Buy – for $60.  Totally not worth it just to move the stupid TV.

By this point it was about 2.5 hours after we started and I was completely over it.  After bickering for a little while we decided it would be dumb to move everything back exactly how we had it so we settled on some furniture rearrangement instead.  It’s not perfect for viewing the TV but it works for now and it does seem to make the living room larger.  Also, there is lots of space between the armchair and the couch which came in handy because by the time we finished putting everything in its new place and cleaning up, we needed to have some distance between us.

The biggest perk from the whole experience?  Finding the watch I lost about a year ago in the folds of the couch.  At least it was all good for something!

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Gravity

October 14, 2013 at 11:18 am (Uncategorized) (, , , , , , )

I don’t see movies in the theater often.  This is mostly because I’m cheap but not so cheap I don’t pay for Netflix, so I can watch movies when they hit DVD from the comfort of my own home.  With or without my pajamas.

The last movie I saw in theater was back in the spring when Jurassic Park was re-released in IMAX.  Scott and I splurged with that and it was so amazing I wanted to become an IMAX employee just so I could be somewhere near the greatness that was that film.  Seriously, it was totally worth it and if it ever comes back to IMAX you can bet your ass that my ass will be back in line for tickets.

Yup, I never want to be an astronaut.

This past weekend, we decided to splurge once again to check out the new Sandra Bullock/George Clooney film Gravity.  It was in 3D at the IMAX theater and again, it was definitely worth it.  The whole film takes place in outer space and the visuals are simply amazing.  I won’t give any spoilers but the basic premise revolves around the two characters who get severed from their ship when a bunch of space debris flies by and wrecks the primary way they have of getting home.  The movie was fast paced and extremely eerie…there were definitely a few times when I jumped in my seat and when I wasn’t jumping I was completely sitting on its edge.  I’ve never really had the desire to go to space, mostly because I think I would have a panic attack fueled by claustrophobia once I got out there.  This movie didn’t make me change my mind.  I also think my pulse was up enough during the entire hour and half it played that I got an additional workout.

Scott was kind of skeptical because he’s not the biggest George Clooney fan but even he was impressed with the movie.  I’ve been replaying bits and pieces in my head since we saw it and if it weren’t for the expensive ticket price I’d probably go see it again.  As I said though, I thought it was worth going at least once, if for no other reason than the fact it does make you feel like you’re lost in space.

That said, I do have one complaint.  Perhaps I’m getting too old or something but the entire movie (and especially the previews) was so LOUD!  I get that it’s a theater and an IMAX one at that, but it was almost painful.  During the previews I could see some people sitting near us being deafened too but luckily the movie seemed to get quieter.  Also, the movie had some moments of complete silence (because d’uh, it’s silent in space) and then you could basically hear how everyone in the theater was holding their breaths.

Other than that, two thumbs up!

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Foodie Friday

October 11, 2013 at 11:42 am (Uncategorized) (, , , , )

This is another Foodie Friday post that doesn’t exactly detail a recipe.  Instead, I’m going to rant about delicious looking snacks and how they’re out to kill you.  Or in other words, why it’s always important to read the fine print.

I was volunteering at the food pantry recently and I came across a box of four peanut butter and chocolate brownies, which were donated from one of our local grocery stores.  They looked incredibly tasty and since that flavor combination is one of my favorites, I decided to check out the health information to see what kind of damage they would do.  I saw 160 calories per serving and that seemed reasonable for such a delectable looking morsel.  Then I noticed the serving size.

68 servings per container??!  Are you freaking kidding me?!  I’ve never been a math whiz but if my calculations are correct, that means there are 2,720 calories and 119 grams of fat in ONE brownie.  That’s more calories than we’re supposed to eat in an entire DAY.  And if you wanted to smother your sweet tooth by eating them all you’d be gorging on 10,880 calories and 476 grams of fat in a sitting.  Unless you decide to cut the whole box into 68 pieces and serve them on toothpicks, which is what you would need to do if you wanted to stick with serving size suggestions.

Now, I’m not claiming to be the healthiest person in the world and I’ve definitely been known to indulge in food and desserts in my day.  In fact, I’m looking forward to a bunch of pizza tonight.  I don’t typically count my calories and I definitely don’t obsess.  But this just seems indicative of why we have obese three-year olds and it makes me angry that it’s labeled in such a way as to be deceiving.  The container already held four pre-cut brownies so if they were really being honest, there would be 68 pieces in that box.

Disgusting.  Deliciously disgusting.

And so wrong.

And so wrong.

So good.

So good.

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