So Good It’s Scary

October 28, 2014 at 7:46 pm (Uncategorized) (, , , , )

Scott and I went to a Halloween Party on Saturday night (dressed as Baby and Johnny from Dirty Dancing, thank you very much) and the hostess was so incredible it was almost spooky. Not only did she have great decorations which included tubs of blood hidden in the bathroom and amazing Medusa costume complete with weird colored contacts that made me uncomfortable, but she had quite the spread laid out for our enjoyment.

Mmm meaty

A vegetarian horror show.  I loved it!

So the big meaty thing that looks like a cannibal’s dream come true was full of various sausages, hot dogs and other types of meat that I can’t be bothered to remember. It was definitely creepy looking but that didn’t stop people from digging right on in. Everything on the table had little notecards with the title of the snack (i.e. “Pumpkin Puke” for the pumpkin with guacamole coming out of its mouth) and she even had a ‘V’ on the cards for those items that were vegetarian (obviously not the guy in the picture).  The entire table was super creative, amazingly tasty and rather impressive given there were only maybe 15 people at the party. We definitely put a dent in everything though and the night could’ve only been better if she had sent us home with doggie-bags! With no actual doggie parts, of course.

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You Look Tired

October 25, 2014 at 12:44 pm (Uncategorized) (, , )

What an annoying phrase. Any woman who has heard this knows that it’s just another way of saying “Wow, you look like crap today”. I hear it more when I’m not wearing make-up because heaven forbid I go a day without mascara.

Screw this, I’m going home.

However, two days ago I put extra time into my appearance because there were some big, important meetings going on at the office and I wanted to look extra nice. I used foundation, which I hardly ever put on, and even put on eye shadow – definitely outside of my normal powder, eyeliner and mascara routine. Sure, my allergies are acting up a little bit and I may or may not have had a good cry the night before because I’m hormonal this week but I didn’t think anything of it – in fact, I was thinking I looked pretty nice and was feeling good about myself. That is, until an older woman walked by my desk, stopped and said “Oh are you okay? You look so tired!”.

Yeah I am tired. Tired of your shit, lady.

I couldn’t even play it off because the words “I hate when people tell me that!” fell out of my mouth before I could even think about stopping them. Of course she backpedaled and said she didn’t mean anything by it, just that it looked like I could’ve used another hour of sleep. Um, who couldn’t? But thanks for calling me out on it before I walk into this meeting full of CEO’s and Presidents. Really appreciated.

I think it’s time to take a nap.

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A Little Soupy

October 22, 2014 at 8:54 pm (Uncategorized) (, , , )

Even though it only lasts for like three days, I love the fall. I also love soups and using my crock pot, so you can tell good things are happening to me right around now. Case in point: I went to a friend’s place late last week and she had a ton of potatoes leftover from her latest CSA delivery so she had to share. Oh drat, that meant I had to make a cheesy, broccoli potato soup!  I used this recipe as inspiration because Scott doesn’t eat real person cheese but I deviated from it a bit, as I often do when using recipes.  Here’s what I ended up doing:

So good it's scary

So good it’s scary

I took all of the potatoes (like two pots full) then boiled them until soft and threw them in a crock pot with like six cups of water. I put the shallot, garlic, onion and carrots in a food processor then dumped all that in the pot too, then steamed some frozen broccoli and added it as well. I used regular seasonings (salt, pepper, garlic salt, basil, thyme, everyday seasoning) along with some fake shredded cheese, then used a hand immersion blender to mix everything up. Then I basically let it all sit in the crock pot for a while until it was hot, added some more “shredded cheese” and then voila! Good to go! It was super easy and since I shoved it all in the crock pot, I didn’t have to sit around watching the stove all afternoon. You can feel free to use all of that extra time to clean up the kitchen, read a book, dance a dance or write me a letter telling me how pretty and nice I am. Then you can enjoy some delicious soup!

FYI it’s particularly good when paired with cornbread and pumpkin pie. Then again, what isn’t?

 

 

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Ideas Week

October 21, 2014 at 7:44 pm (Uncategorized) (, , , , , , , )

Chicago hosted its 4th Annual Ideas Week last week and I was kinda, sorta involved. Chicago Ideas Week is a bit hard to describe but it’s basically a series of week-long events where hundreds of people are brought together to connect and inspire each over a huge variety of topics. There were lectures and talks about everything from politics to beer-making and there was literally something for everyone. The talks were at all times of the day and night and held all over the city and since our firm donated to the event, we were given an allotment of tickets to dole out. One of my bosses was in charge of that so I was in turn in charge of the ticket allocation. The process was a bit of a pain in the ass at first but I got the hang of it and was rewarded with a few tickets myself!

A bright idea!

Last Monday, I went to a talk about Explorers from around the world and got to listen to a pilot named Amelia Earhart (no relation to the original, though she did inspire this woman to fly around the planet), a guy who has walked the entire length of the Nile, an ecologist who goes cave-diving, a journalist who has covered some of the most dangerous places in the world and last but certainly not least, Captain James Lovell (the astronaut who Tom Hanks portrayed in Apollo 13). Yeah, the talks were awesome. I found Amelia Earhart to be a little obnoxious (she used to be a weather girl for some local station and so she had that bubbly, plasticy type of personality that makes you want to mess up her perfectly coiffed hair and smear her immaculate make-up…or maybe that was just me) but the others were all extremely fascinating. James Lovell was just plain awe-inspiring and listening to him talk about how Apollo 13 was “probably his most difficult mission” really put into perspective any problems we face down here on earth. The whole event was inspiring and left me wanting to go out and traipse around the world but alas, I had to go to work the next day. I learned a lot though and it was a very interesting way to spend a Monday night.

The next talk I went to was on Saturday evening and Scott got to join me for that one. It was all about the power of creativity and how people take such different paths in order to make the most of their own creativity. We heard from a pair of Chicago entrepreneurs who started a business that sells shoes with the graffiti artwork of artists from all around the world, along with an architect with his own T.V. show, a ventriloquist named Terry Fator who won America’s Got Talent, a chef scientist, the jazz musician T.S. Monk and actress Joan Cusack. It was quite an eclectic group of talent and they all basically talked about their own individual paths of creativity which led them to the success they enjoy today. Joan was the last speaker of the night and she’s a bizarre, funny and original personality who gave us a lot of laughs. Apparently she also owns a store here in the city that sells greeting cards and has featured things from very expensive artwork, a giant beach ball, small toy cars and a live pig. Like I said, bizarre and eclectic.

All of the talks were entertaining though and it was cool to see how it all came together. Who knows – maybe one day I’ll be leading a talk like this myself! Though I may need to acquire a pig first.

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Badge of Honor

October 16, 2014 at 8:06 pm (Uncategorized) (, , , )

So I’m involved with another program at The Field Museum and this one involves Boy Scouts*! The Scouts have an opportunity to come to the Field to earn various badges and I am now officially a “teacher” in this program.  I had my first day last weekend and I’ve spent roughly two months being nervous about it.  There are a lot of logistical challenges in getting all of these groups all around the museum for the day so I was anxious about that, not to mention the whole-standing-up-in-front-of-a-bunch-of-strange-kids-and parents-to-teach-them-something-I’ve-only-just-learned-about-myself aspect.  Luckily I have a background in this kind of stuff!

They also earned a sweet Field Museum badge

The program was an all-day thing that went from 8am-3pm and luckily the first thing I got to do was go on a super-secret behind-the-scenes tour of a bunch of the collections in the Anthropology department.  My job was to make sure no one touched ANYTHING and that was about it, since actual scientists led the tour.  The whole no touching thing was pretty important because apparently a lot of the items are coated in arsenic to kill any bugs that might try to destroy them.  I succeeded though and no one died so that a very good thing. It was also really cool to see so many artifacts that are closed off to the general public and all of the Scouts seemed to really enjoy it.

After that I taught the first of my four classes (all about archaeology – my college coursework came in handy!) and, not going to lie, I was still pretty nervous.  No one cried or cussed me out or threw the balls of clay we were working with at me so I considered it a success, then I got to break for lunch before teaching three more classes.  At the end of each session I would send the kids to go wash their hands of the clay we were using and so I had a chance to talk with their parents/chaperones.  I mentioned to the second group that this was my first Badge Day ever and they told me I was doing a really good job, so that emboldened me enough to get through the rest of the day.  The kids were all really good (and almost eerily quiet while working – I was scared the group before lunch would hear my stomach growl!) and I only had to get on one group for being loud and banging clay on tables with the force of The Hulk.

The whole thing was a lot of fun and went way easier than I was worried it would.  Sure, it was a long day but I got to pretend I was a teacher for a while and that was pretty rad.  It also reinforced my belief that it’s not something I should devote myself to full-time.  I have  a few more Badge Days to work over the next few months so hopefully they all go just as smoothly and I won’t have to send any Scouts to detention.  Because it doesn’t exist at the Field and it would probably be frowned upon if I made them go stand in a corner or something.  But a girl can dream!

 

*Disclaimer: I don’t agree with all Boy Scout policies, especially the ones regarding the LGBT community. However, the young boys I hung out with have nothing to do with that and I don’t think they should be punished.

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Baby Fever

October 14, 2014 at 6:55 pm (Uncategorized) (, , , , )

Apologies to my mom and sister but this is not a post about me wanting children.

Babies sure do seem to be everywhere, though. A good friend of mine from college is due with her first child in about two weeks, so that countdown has begun. A cousin of mine gave birth to her second child, a little girl, on Friday, then a woman I work with at the Field Museum announced her pregnancy on Saturday. On Sunday, Scott and I went to the ‘burbs to celebrate the upcoming birthdays of his mom and sister-in-law but unfortunately there were no newborn babies in attendance. We had snacks, pizza and cake then the two birthday girls started opening presents, which seemed to be the most exciting part of the afternoon. The last card Scott’s mom opened was addressed to “#1 Grandma”, which registered with everyone about 20 seconds after she opened it. Scott’s brother and his wife are expecting the first grandchild for the entire family, and since they had always said they weren’t going to have children it came as quite a shock for everyone! The have quite a few reptiles as pets and we all honestly thought that they were announcing the pregnancy of one of their chameleons or something. Once we figured out they were talking about a human baby, we all immediately got tears in our eyes and Scott’s dad went out to the balcony where he started to shout “I’m going to be a grandpa!” It was pretty much the best birthday present his mom could’ve asked for and even Scott was teary-eyed at the thought of becoming an uncle. So I guess I’ll be kind of like an aunt? Even if that’s not official I shall make this child address me by that title because I just plain want to be an aunt (hear that, sissy? Maybe for my birthday next year? You always give such great gifts and a niece or nephew would top them all!)

If I smear the blood of a stork on my door, does that mean babies will pass over me like something out of the Bible?

This is also great because it relieves some of the pressure that Scott’s sister and I had been facing about when we were going to have children of our own. Whew! With this new little one on the horizon, we all have plenty that will hold our attention.

But I still wouldn’t mind if my sister had a baby!

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Back and Better Than Ever!

October 7, 2014 at 7:34 pm (Uncategorized) (, , , , , , )

The beach by my hostel. Its name? Sunset Beach.

The beach by my hostel. Its name? Sunset Beach.

Well, my vacation was fantastic.  Another amazing adventure for the books!

If I were to go into each and every reason this was an awesome trip, you’d be here reading all night.  Instead, I’ll shove all the highlights of the things I did into a couple of lists and leave them for your perusal!

Vancouver, B.C. (four nights, five days)

  • Spent lots of time walking along the English Bay, as there was a nice little beach about 3 minutes from my hostel.
  • Hiked around a lake in Stanley Park and tried to hike more but accidentally exhausted myself instead.
  • Took the ferry to shop on Granville Island and ate delicious olives, cheese and cannoli at the Granville Public Market.
  • Braved the one rainy day I encountered by taking a bus to the University of British Columbia Campus, where I pretended I was a student for a bit and then poked around the Museum of Anthropology for three hours.
  • Stood in awe in the Vancouver Public Library, which was seven stories tall and full of some of my favorite things.  Books.  Duh.
  • Went to the top of the Vancouver Tower, which is a lookout sort of like the Sears Tower (only way smaller.  Sorry, Vancouver).  Still had a great view and took of pictures.
  • Bared my tourist status by going to Canada Place and taking lots of photos there too.  It was sort of like Navy Pier and also smaller, however not as annoyingly full of children and overpriced beer.  Point = Vancouver.
  • Wandered through Gastown and saw the famous Gastown Steam Clock, which was unsurprisingly unexciting.  Also wandered through Yorktown, Chinatown (the oldest in North America!) and the gay district, where I happened to be staying.
  • Somehow stumbled through what is probably the worst section of Vancouver, as evidenced by the needle depots on the sides of buildings and the people living on the sidewalks.  Didn’t get mugged!
  • Found a guy who hemmed my jeans for $10 while I waited in the changing room – took less than 5 minutes!
  • Talked to a couple who met 52 years ago from the day I met them, and they were on a six-week road trip through Canada and the United States.  They were seeing more of North America than I ever have and I found them inspirational.  I may or may not have taken their picture.
  • Indulged in WAY too much delicious food, including but not limited to a couple of chocolate éclairs nearly the size of Subway sandwiches.  These came from a Transylvanian Bakery that was dangerously close to my hostel.  I may or may not have stopped by there multiple nights.
  • Got fantastic sleep, which was surprising considering I was on the top bunk in a four person room of a hostel.
Told you.

Told you.

San Diego, CA (three nights, two days):

  • Caught up with an old friend of mine, who was kind enough to let me crash at her place and play tour guide while driving my ass around.
  • Saw seals at La Jolla Beach and climbed through a cave on the beach.

    I see a seal!

    I see a seal!

  • Ordered a Manhattan at this dive type whiskey bar that had over 200 bottles of whiskey.  Just whiskey.  And my drink was delicious.
  • Toured the Gaslamp Quarter, which was cool but didn’t have the unexciting clock like Gastown in Vancouver.
  • Crossed the Coronado Bridge and sampled a flight from the Coronado Brewery.
  • Walked through Balboa Park where we went to a couple of museums, a botanical garden and generally saw pretty things.
  • Tried to get into the San Diego Zoo but my friend’s pass was expired (we technically knew this but tried anyway).  Wound up getting photos of the San Diego Zoo sign instead.
  • Spent one late night watching Frozen, which I’d been wanting to watch for a while.  Was not disappointed.
  • Again ate WAY too much food, including an obscene amount of avocado.  Just obscene.  No regrets.
  • Went to Old Town, which was described to me as a kind of Mexican Disneyland.  This was fairly accurate and the tacos were delicious.
Pretty church in Balboa Park

Pretty church in Balboa Park

  • Absorbed as much sunshine and heat as I could, since it was 95 when I left CA and snowing at that time in Chicago.  Yuck.  YUCK I say!
  • Got minimal sleep, which was unsurprising given all of the catching up we did and the fact that my friend didn’t have AC (see above).

The Pros:  Seeing my old friend was fantastic but ultimately (and of course this has nothing to do with her) I think I enjoyed my time in Vancouver more.  Maybe it was because I actually walked around it more thoroughly (i.e. 6-10 miles every day), maybe because it was so freaking gorgeous or maybe it was the pure freedom of not having any place specific to go or thing to do, but I fell in love with that city.  So much so that I kind of felt like I was cheating on Chicago.  Whatever, the affair was worth it and I plan on going back!

The Cons:  My flight home was delayed and I spent almost two hours sitting on the runway in Denver, CO.  Not ideal.  But if that’s the worst thing that happened to me on my trip, I’ll consider myself a damn lucky girl indeed!

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