Special Delivery

June 30, 2015 at 6:53 pm (Uncategorized) (, , , , )

A woman I work with has been using one of those home meal-delivery services for a while now and she’s been telling me how great it all is. This is the type of service that sends you enough food for a specific number of meals, along with detailed recipes, to theoretically alleviate the stress of buying and cooking dinners. She had a few free trials and recently offered to let me try one out, so I received a huge refrigerated box full of food – and free of charge!

There was a lot of great looking produce, cheeses, sides and breads inside the box and I was pretty excited when I opened it up and took inventory. I decided to try my first meal that very night and was encouraged because it said the cooking time was 30 minutes. I don’t typically make things from recipes because I’m lazy and hate following directions but I dove head first into this meal. And let me tell you, it did not take 30 minutes – it was way longer than that. Apparently the 30 minutes didn’t take into account the time it took to wash, cut up and prep everything and that’s the stuff I hate doing anyway. My quick and easy meal took about an hour to make and involved way more prep than I’m used to doing. But I remained confident that the finished product would be more than worth it so I plugged along, even though I was pretty damn hungry by this point.

Told you it was a lot of food.

Told you it was a lot of food.

I’m not sure if it was my lack of culinary skills or just bad luck but my finished meal didn’t look anything like the photograph and it sure didn’t taste how I was expecting, either. I was attempting to make some Indian tortilla wrap with paneer cheese, potatoes, green peppers and some other stuff which I’ve already forgotten. The food had a problem staying in the wrap and it was honestly kind of bland so I ended up using my own spices to add some flavor and I just dipped the damn tortilla in hummus I already had as a side. By the time Scott got home I was grumpy, disheartened and still slightly hungry. Not the best first foray into the world of home delivery cooking.

There were two more recipes in the box but I had a hard time finding the motivation to go through the whole endeavor again. One dish was a quinoa salad concoction and the other was huevos rancheros and Scott said he’d give it a try one evening. Apparently the quinoa didn’t cook how it was supposed to and he ended up using ingredients from both meals to make a mash up egg meal that wasn’t bad but wasn’t exactly what he was aiming for, either. After that we completely gave up and used the food to cook whatever we wanted until it was gone. At least nothing went to waste!

Our method of cooking is mostly throwing things together that sound good and hoping for the best so apparently these sort of meal prep dishes aren’t the best thing for us. After all, I clearly failed at being a domestic cooking goddess, but that doesn’t really bother me. What did bother me was the amount of packaging that went into our delivery; it’s a necessary evil of having so many different types of food delivered to your door but throwing out all of that plastic really turned me off. As did the price – if I had stuck with it I would have been paying $60/week for the three meals (though there was enough to feed two people and we actually had leftovers from the dish I made. Whether that was because of portion size or taste is a different question).

In the end, it was an interesting experiment but not one I’ll be sticking to in the future. I rather prefer my own less-structured and far less time-consuming method of going about things anyway. Plus, my way allows me the occasional bowl of cereal for dinner and no home delivery service is going to provide me with that!

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RIP Uncle Dave

June 24, 2015 at 5:51 pm (Uncategorized) ()

My Uncle Dave was my godfather and he was the strongest man I’ve ever known. He did not have an easy life as he was involved in some serious accidents from the time he was a little boy until…well, basically until the day he died. He was a quadriplegic for as long as I knew him due to an unfortunate incident when he was playfully pushed into a swimming pool and even though I never knew him to walk, I’ve had recurring dreams where he did. Despite the challenges that he constantly battled, he always had a smile on his face and I never heard him complain. Ever. He was an inspiration to me and to many others and yesterday he lost a hard-fought battle. I know that he is finally at peace and that he’s better off now than where he spent the last few months of his life. That still doesn’t make it any easier to tell him goodbye.

I’m lucky in that I haven’t lost too many people dear to me so this is all sort of unchartered territory. It does make it easier knowing that his suffering is over but the fact that I live about five hours from my closest family member weighs heavily on me. I will be heading home tomorrow and staying until Saturday evening so I’m looking forward to spending time with my loved ones, even though the circumstances leave something to be desired.

I just feel so…weird…about all of this. My uncle’s experiences in the hospital and near-hospice like center have infuriated our family because the quality of care he received was absolutely sub-par. The amount of paperwork, mistakes, red-tape bullshit and overall incompetence is pretty mind-blowing and I unfortunately now understand what a shambles our health-care system is in. Not to get on my soapbox but I’d like to see some politicians watch their loved ones wither away and die like my family just did with my uncle and then see if policies stay the same. As if families don’t have enough to deal with.

I’m a little all over the place and don’t really care. So here’s a poem that I’m keeping handy right now and I hope that it may provide a little solace to anyone who’s grieving, as it’s done to me:

Amen

 

Uncle Dave, I hope wherever you are you can walk, you can run and you can dance. You deserve it.

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Hawk-Eye View

June 18, 2015 at 7:28 pm (Uncategorized) (, , , , , )

As I recently mentioned, the Chicago Blackhawks just won the Stanley Cup. Again. This is what it looked like as I stepped off the train this morning to go to work:

Parade, mob, tomato, tomahto

Parade, mob, tomato, tomahto

Luckily, my company let us come in a few hours late so we could try to beat the worst of the parade traffic but as you can see, there were still people everywhere. The building I work in is the building you can see with all of the scaffolding in the front so as you can imagine, trekking to work from the train was a little chaotic. After only being in the crowds for a block or so I can safely say I’m glad I didn’t go to the parade. That many people crammed together on a muggy, steamy day…I was just fine going into my office. But it was hard not to get caught up in some of the excitement and I may have been at work but I was wearing red and black all day long!

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Tornadoes and Floods and Hawks, Oh My!

June 16, 2015 at 6:01 pm (Uncategorized) (, , , , , , )

Yesterday was a weird day in Chicago.

The weather was particularly screwy, what with it spewing rain one minute and heat, sunshine and humidity the next. I went to lunch around 1pm and it was drizzling and gross, yet when I walked back outside an hour later to return to work the sun was steaming the sidewalks and it seemed like a glorious day. Not three hours later, the loud and The-Apocalypse-Is-Nigh sirens  began blaring throughout the Loop to signify tornados and flash flooding in the area. This was roughly 5pm, when myself and most of the city were trying to commute our way home. I managed to make it to the el relatively dry but when I stepped off at my stop about half an hour later, it was like some movie set intern was dumping buckets of water just about everywhere. All I could do was laugh, to be honest. My umbrella wept in protest and in the end didn’t provide much relief as I was so wet when I reached the gym that I was literally wringing water from my clothes. My backpack was soaked too, which meant my gym clothes and book were wet. And my gym shoes? Well, I wore them on my walk from the train so they were completely screwed.

I sat with a blow dryer in the gym for about 15 minutes to make my workout as dry as possible but I was still uncomfortably damp the entire time. I thought about just going home but I figured if I was already wet and miserable I might as well be wet and miserable at the gym and get some calories burned out of it. On the plus side, the gym was empty! It could’ve been due to the weather or it could’ve been due to the force otherwise known as the Blackhawks.

The entire day had me feeling like the girl in the white shirt.

Yup, they won their third Stanley Cup Championship in six years last night. I’m not going to lie and pretend I’m a huge hockey buff or even a bandwagon fan, though I do think it’s cool they won and I obviously support any team from the town I live in. But to be completely honest, Scott and I were catching up on the season finale of Game of Thrones while the Hawks were playing and we kind of forgot about the game. Until the fireworks started, that is. We heard some noise and then some more noise and as Scott wondered aloud whether we needed to be worried about potential gunshots, I realized what was going on. The whole city was celebrating, high water and bad weather be damned! People were packing the streets all over town and while it looked like fun, we didn’t go out and participate in any of the revelry. I mean, I was completely dry and on my couch, what do you want of me?

And don’t even get me started on the finale of Game of Thrones. As if I hadn’t dealt with enough water for the day, it started pouring down my face as the credits rolled. So I guess I wasn’t completely dry after all but I was in my pajamas. And once those go on and the bra comes off, the only way I’m leaving my house is if a tornado sucks me out

PS – While I was at the gym, I was browsing a magazine while on the elliptical and the individual TV on my machine was on. I didn’t have headphones in and wasn’t paying it much attention but it was captioned and at one point, I happened to glance up and see a HUGE MAJOR BIG GIANT spoiler for the finale of GoT. I almost fell off of the machine right then and instead automatically started hitting the screen, as if that would help. What the hell, brain and/or airwaves?! Couldn’t have waited two more seconds? Story of my life.

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Swamp Thing

June 11, 2015 at 5:52 pm (Uncategorized) (, , , , , )

While in Louisiana last weekend, Scott and I teamed up with a couple of my cousins to do the most Louisiana thing we could think of – an alligator airboat tour through a bayou. It was an activity we could really sink our teeth into!

No, I’m not sorry for that joke.

See you later, alligator.

See you later, alligator.

We arrived in this little place after driving nearly two hours into swamp country. Even my cousin, who grew up in Louisiana herself, said she’d never been that far in the bayou. The four of us joined a couple from Dallas on the airboat, which was a glorified fishing boat with a huge car engine strapped to the back (it was safer and more legit than it sounds, I promise). We pulled out of the no-wake zone and our Cajun guide gunned the whole contraption as he pointed us straight towards a giant patch of large trees and weeds. At the very last possible second, he swerved the boat and we all felt like we were on a roller coaster. Not going to lie, it was pretty damn cool!

We also got to meet a few alligators, most notable a large 14-foot male, a slightly smaller female and a juvenile that was about four feet long. These alligators weren’t near one another and were instead spread throughout the bayou – apparently they’re slightly territorial animals. Who knew. The swamp tour hangs around them enough where they were expecting the raw chicken our guide gave out and at one point we were even able to touch the big guy’s tail, but they were in no way docile. The female began lunging from the water and she could’ve easily taken out our boat so we bade her farewell before we all became gator bait.

While on the tour, we were also able to see some pretty incredible wildlife and ecology, including some rodent called the Nutria rat and a tree that had fallen over in the bayou but still retained a source of nourishment, so the branches became trees on their own and the whole thing flourished. It was all very interesting and very entertaining – definitely worth the drive and the price of admission. So if you’re ever in the South and want to experience the type of thing Yankee tourists only dream about, let me know and I’ll hook you up with your own wild ride!

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Summer Time Fun Time

June 1, 2015 at 6:44 pm (Uncategorized) (, , , )

Is a slow summer full of weekends with nothing to do other than laying around at the beach only available in dreams and movies? Not that I’m complaining – everything I’ve got going on this summer is super fun and none of it involves wearing a bridesmaid dress (like I spent so much of my time last summer doing) so I am STOKED! Here’s a rundown, basically so I can try to get my own ducks in a row:

  • My sister and her bf came to Chicago for Memorial Day weekend and we spent the entire time walking all through various neighborhoods, enjoying the park and a music festival, water taxi-ing to Chinatown and doing lots of eating and drinking. So that was that weekend.
  • Last weekend I headed to my hometown with Scott so I could watch my goddaughter be baptized (actually, I guess there was some participation on my end involved in that…who knew I had to buy a gift?!) and we were also able to put a deposit down on the venue for our wedding next year. So that’s happening! Please note it did not entail wearing a bridesmaid dress. Also please note how ironic it will be for this agnostic to take part in a ritualized Catholic ceremony. Apparently my whole family was surprised when I didn’t burst into flame, so I’ve got that going for me.
  • This weekend Scott and I will be flying to Louisiana to visit my dad, who’s been dealing with some health stuff and could use the company. Hopefully we’ll get to see lots of family and go on a swamp tour. Wow, that sentence certainly can’t be said for many places.
  • The second weekend in June is so far the slowest one I’ve got on the books, so maybe we’ll be crazy and go camping. Or just watch Jurassic World on repeat as it opens that weekend.
  • The weekend after that is the 30th annual Greater Chicago Hunger Walk and it’s a huge event that raises money for many food pantries, including the one I’m a part of. Let me know if you want to participate because we can use all the supporters we can get!
  • The last weekend in June we’ll be hosting a friend of mine from high school, as she’s coming up for the U2 concert and decided to make a long weekend out of it.
  • The following weekend is the 4th of July and my mom will be crashing on the couch as per her usual summer holiday visit.
  • THEN OH MY GOD I HAVE TWO WHOLE WEEKENDS TOTALLY FREE WHATEVER SHALL I DO? Oh wait that’s still two months out. Surely they’ll be filled by then.
  • The last weekend in July will be spent in Texas at a cousin’s wedding. Bring on the free booze!

Obviously this isn’t true.

 

And that’s basically where I’m at because my mind can’t even process something like another month of summer. Anything in August is just going to have to wait, because all that’s listed above are solely weekend activities. There’s no mention of the various things I’ve got going on during the week because my head might explode. But luckily I still have my trusty planner to help me keep it all sorted out!

 

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