Beersgiving

December 8, 2014 at 9:20 pm (Uncategorized) (, , , , )

The week before Thanksgiving, Scott’s sister and her boyfriend threw a little shin-dig at their place out in the suburbs.  His sister wanted to have a craft beer tasting especially since her bf was preparing to open a keg that he and his twin brother had brewed themselves. So the event was created and everyone was asked to bring a few of their favorite craft beers to share – when I received the invite,  I was expecting a general swapping atmosphere where we all just grabbed each other’s brews from the fridge but I was totally wrong about that. Scott’s sister had a legit tasting going on.  She’s an amazing hostess so I don’t know why I was surprised by her set-up but I was. Or maybe impressed. Or jealous because I don’t have any fancy serving platters or ice buckets. Whatever, she had a great spread set that we all totally enjoyed!

Beer me!

Beer me!

To be honest, I’m not much of a beer drinker in these colder months. I prefer red wine to just about anything else in the wintertime but I made an exception so I could imbibe in all of these fancy craft beers and it was worth it. That said, his sister did have wine and a cocktail of her own creation readily available (told you she was a good hostess) and of course there were tons of pub-worthy snacks all around. This includes popcorn and pretzels busting out of the cardboard six-pack holders in an artful yet tasty display, something which I doubt I could have come up with if I had all the beer in the world to get my creative juices flowing.

It was a lot of fun and we’ve already started brainstorming other holidays she can turn into beer related events (my suggestion: Beerster around Easter – clever, I know). Also, the keg that was tapped by her bf was surprisingly tasty and if I’m lucky I’ll get a bottle of that for Christmas. She had so many people at the party (and so many from out of town) that many of the guests crashed on her living room floor at the end of the night. Scott and I just went back to our place because we’re too old for that shit. Besides, how could I possibly end such a fancy grown-up beer tasting party in such a college-esque way? Of course, if they had had a beer bong out things may have ended differently but then again bonging craft beer doesn’t like the wisest decision either. I guess this is what growing up is all about!

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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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Full of Fall

September 24, 2012 at 1:31 pm (Uncategorized) (, , , , , , , , , , , )

Happy Fall!  This is officially my favorite time of the year and my weekend was spent delving into all that this season has to offer.

An apple a day…

Friday night Scott and I kicked everything off by watching Night of the Living Dead…which was as hilarious as it was spooky.  I know we’ll be watching our fair share of scary movies in the weeks to come so this old school black and white classic was a good way to begin.  On Saturday, we went to an Apple Festival in a nearby neighborhood and enjoyed some cider while watching live music, checking out booths and stopping in local stores.  The festival featured apple pizza (I didn’t try it but it did look pretty good), apple beer, apple cider and of course…apples.  Rain had threatened the entire weekend but the weather was actually perfect – crisp, cool and sunny, which allowed me to bust out a light scarf and some old boots.  I’m not huge into fashion but one of the reasons I love living in a climate with seasons is that it gives me the opportunity to change my wardrobe and accessories from to time.

Which is one of the reasons I headed to Target after the Apple Fest.  I walked to work on Friday morning with a light sweater and flip-flops, which I’m sad to say is no longer appropriate clothing for this time of the year.  I was in the market for a new light coat and of course Target never disappoints, so I’m now not so frozen on my morning commute.  The other reason I wanted to swing by the store was to load up on some Halloween decorations…I realize it might be a bit early and all but Scott and I both are fans of decorating and we needed more spider webs and lights to create the mood we were going for.  After pulling out all of our decorations from last year and utilizing a few extension cords and a box of tacks, our apartment became spookified once again.  We even decorated our back balcony and the dinner guests we had over last night seemed more impressed with our Halloween spirit than weirded out by how early we were decorating, so clearly we associate with the right kinds of people.

Sidenote:  Saturday night was also the long-awaited performance of my celebrity crush on SNL and I just want to put it out there that he parodied the stripper film Magic Mike in the opening sequence…meaning he did a strip show of his own.  Pretty much the best SNL ever.  That is all.

 

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Fall into Fall

September 23, 2011 at 10:10 am (Uncategorized) (, , , , , , , , )

It’s official – summer is over.

Okay, this whole change of seasons thing is okay after all

I’m dealing with this about as well as can be expected and have begun slowly bringing the sweaters and sneakers back into my life.  I always hate putting away the sandals for the year and I’m still stubbornly wearing them as much as I can but today’s chilly temps might soon make me think otherwise.  This summer was a great one (even if it did rain way too much for my liking) and I’m sad to see it go but since Fall is pretty much my favorite season, I think I’ll manage.  What makes Fall so great?  Shocker of shockers, I’ve got a Top 5 list:

  1. New clothes!  Or at least, clothes that feel new.  Hell, if I haven’t worn something in two or three months it’s new to me so every time the temperatures drastically change I bust out a more appropriate wardrobe and pretend that I just went on a shopping spree.  This may or may not include me rolling around on top of clothing on my bed.
  2. Cute accessories!  I’ll be the first to admit that I’m not much of a girly girl (though the two reasons listed so far seem to prove otherwise…) but I do love me some scarves and jackets.  I like to mix and match and since the Fall is perfect for layers, it’s a great time to play dress-up.  I’m also excited to bust out some boots again, especially since they’re so made for walkin’.
  3. Soup!  Mmm soup.  I’ve already had tomato soup and grilled cheese like three times in the past two weeks and that won’t be letting up soon.  A friend of mine keeps a super-intimidating yet amazing food blog and she’s recently posted some good looking soups that I may have to finally break down and attempt to cook.  Fall is also good for things like pumpkins, squash, apple cider and other warm and delicious treats.  Who doesn’t like that?
  4. Holidays! Fall marks the beginning of the holiday season and I like holidays.  Especially since that means more time off work, more time with my family and more time having a good time.  Bring it on!
  5. Changing Leaves! Now, I don’t get to enjoy this so much now that I live in the city but I can still appreciate it to an extent.  There are actual, real trees just outside my living room windows and I live just down the street from a park so I’m still able to get out and watch Mother Nature do her presto-chango act.  And in my near-28 years, I still get the urge frolic and jump in big piles of leaves.

Obviously, the end of summer isn’t all bad.  And I’m not too down about the plunging temps because I know it’ll be warmer in Guatemala and that’s just around the corner.  So I’ll spend this weekend enjoying comfy sweaters, warm beverages and who knows…maybe some soup.  We’ll see if I can handle such craziness!

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Uh Oh

September 15, 2011 at 10:51 am (Uncategorized) (, , , , , )

On Monday, temperatures were in the upper 80’s and I was entirely too comfortable in a t-shirt, shorts and sandals.  This morning I wore socks, shoes, a sweater, long pants, a scarf and a jacket and I almost cried when I stepped out my back door.  We’ll be lucky to see a high out of the 50’s today.

Not yet...but soon

Yuck.

I like fall, I really do.  I just don’t appreciate being thrown right into the seasonal changes like this.  My allergies and sinus’ don’t appreciate it much either and I can say the same for just about everyone I see in my office or hear on the train.  Sure, the change in weather brings about a change in wardrobe and even popular foods and drinks but in all honesty, I’m still not quite ready for summer to end.  It rained more this summer in Chicago than almost any on record and I don’t feel like I got the sunshine and Vitamin D I need to ensure I don’t go homicidal over the coming 8 months.  I guess we’ll see what happens and in the meantime I’m going to be checking the weather religiously in hopes that we’ll have one more burst of warmth before Old Man Winter rears his ugly head.

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Pumpkin Lovin’

October 6, 2010 at 11:20 am (Uncategorized) (, , , , , , , )

Look what I found!

In walking around this week, I stumbled upon a scene that reminded me of my home sweet home.  Living in the city, I take many things for granted…easy public transportation, the fact that there’s a lot to do at any given time and ample vegetarian friendly restaurants, just to name a few.  There are a few things that I miss about more rural living though…seeing lots of stars at night and hearing animals instead of traffic are among them.  One thing that I didn’t even realize I missed is the abundance of pumpkin patches in the fall.  I grew up not too far from a family farm turned restaurant/winery/pumpkin and apple orchard, and I have many great memories of picking gourds there.  Sadly, there aren’t many places in the city (other than grocery stores) that will allow you to grab a pumpkin.  But I found one!

The above photo was taken a mere few blocks from my apartment.  I was walking home the other night and was drawn to the soft warm glow of artificial light.  My excitement grew as my eyes took in the sight and I instantly felt ten years younger when I realized I could walk through this makeshift pumpkin patch and pick out my own.  There’s even a trailer in the background, to fully complete my Indiana visual.  Sadly, I didn’t have any cash on my that night but I have plans to go back later this week and nab one for carving purposes.  I’ve only ever carved a pumpkin once in my life but all that will change in the next week.  In fact, I didn’t ever carve a pumpkin until I was well into college – we always painted them growing up.  That’s probably because my mom never trusted me with a knife and to be honest I don’t blame her.  I’m not even sure I trust myself, but I’ll sure give it another stab (hahaha I am so punny).  And yes, I will probably blog my finished product.

These are not my feet

I happen to really enjoy the fall and it seems like we’ll actually get one in Chicago this year.  I love the smell of it, which is something I can’t really describe.  Hearing leaves crunch underfoot is nice even if it means walking on the dead carcasses of tree parts, and I like wearing the jackets and scarves I haven’t worn in a while.  This does NOT mean I’m ready for heavy winter coat and boot weather, so hopefully it’ll stay fall-like as long as weatherly possible.  I also like to start baking again, which my air-condition-less, sweltering apartment prohibits me from doing in the summer.  Pecan pies are wonderful even if they are caloric death traps and I might get domestic enough to try to create a pumpkin pie this year as well.  More than anything though, I’m excited to attack a pumpkin with a blade and see what I can come up with!

I’ll just make sure I don’t do it alone, in case I sever something important and need to be escorted to the hospital.  That’s what friends are for, right?

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And It All Falls Down

September 9, 2010 at 1:09 pm (Uncategorized) (, , , , , , , , , , , )

Everything is falling.  The sun is setting earlier, the temperature is dropping and when I was home last weekend I stepped on my first fallen leaves of the season.

Crap.  I am so not ready for this.  Didn’t summer just start?

If you can't beat 'em, join 'em

To get myself into a slightly more prepared mood for this change in seasons, here’s a list of things I love about Autumn:

  • It’s the only season with two names
  • The leaves look pretty when they change (granted, this is because they are dying, and granted, I don’t get to see as many changing trees here as I did while living in Indiana, but there’s a tree outside my living room window and it will suffice).
  • A dear friend is getting married in October and her wedding is in Bloomington, IN, so this will actually allow me to enjoy a few days of those gorgeous country fall colors.  Take that, tree outside my living room window.
  • I get to delve into a different portion of my wardrobe.  It’s almost like Christmas when I find sweaters, coats and scarves I haven’t worn in half a year (okay more like 4 months).
  • Pumpkin flavoring in food and beverages.  Case in point: the coffee I had from Dunkin Donuts this morning.
  • Wearing slippers around my apartment.  They make my feet cozy and conveniently allow me to go longer between vacuums.
  • Red wine.  I know I can drink reds all year long but when the weather is warm I typically go for whites.  I opened my first bottle of red in months earlier this week, and I had forgotten how nice they can be.

I wish I had a yard, so I could do this. It would make the looming season so much better.

  • More days off work – this is HUGE.  Labor Day, Veteran’s Day, Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year’s are all paid holidays, plus I get to take my vacation.  After a summer of black out dates that didn’t even allow us time off for the Fourth of July, I’m ready to be paid to not work.  By the way, I’ll be in Puerto Vallarta this time next week so prepare yourself for a lack of posts over that time.  For reals.
  • I’ll be saving money on electricity since I won’t be running the window unit air conditioner in my bedroom every night, and I don’t have to pay for heat as it’s included in my rent.  How sweet that is.
  • There are two shows I am looking forward to catching again now that the seasons are starting up (Glee and Bones…don’t judge me).  I’m sure there are many others I could get into if I tried, but I’m usually too lazy to keep up with more than a couple.
  • Everything smells crisp.  I really like that.

You might notice that Football isn’t on my list.  That’s not an oversight; I’ll watch it if social norms call for it but I honestly couldn’t care less.  Does that make me un-American?

Of course, there are many things I don’t quite appreciate about the weather turning colder (and I’m sure I’ll post about that eventually).  To try to hang on to the last remnants of summer, I’ll be wearing my sandals for as long as I possibly can.  This isn’t easy when it’s 50 degrees and I leave my house at 6:30 in the morning while wearing a jacket, but it’s a tribute to the warmer weather of days gone by that I’m willing to make.  We’ll see how long I can tough it out.

It’s also helped to think about my very near Mexico vacation when I begin to get down about the falling temperatures.  In fact, reminding myself of the trip is what’s gotten me out of bed every day this week.  I’ll try not to gloat too much or make my return, trip-summary post too awesome, but I am just a tad excited.  When I saw my breath this morning, I just thought of fun in the sun on a nice warm beach.  It definitely helped.

This is the actual hotel we'll be staying in. Please don't hate me.

I’ll have a drink (or five) for you!

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