Sunday, April 28, 2013

Giant Spuds

I hope that the alarming speed at which my weeks are flying by isn't going to become a theme in my life.  Otherwise, I feel like I should start scoping out denture creams now.  To think that it's been a full week since my lovely mother last graced my little, red, Craig's List couch is almost unbelievable.

I've gotten so used to this steady parade of loved ones flying in from various parts of the country that, in comparison, this week and weekend seems pretty dull.  I would skip this post all together but, seeing as my once a week posts are already flirting dangerously with not actually blogging at all, I've done my best to scrounge up something.  So, here, I present a list that I so accurately will call "Exciting Highlights of the Week: A List of Things More Exciting than Calling Comcast Customer Support."

1.  Derrick and I came up with a new way of coping with our long distance predicament: if we can't see each other every day, at least we can send each other a picture of ourselves every day (don't worry - it's all been G rated).  It's been going pretty well; seeing a digital version of his face in the morning is better than not seeing it at all.  This little game has also confirmed my suspicions that we may actually be on to something here with our relationship.  Despite my valiant attempts:

He continues to request a daily picture.  I have indeed found the man of my dreams.

2.  My Saturday involved three very satisfying elements: an afternoon not spent alone, an Urban Outfitters outlet, and Build-Your-Own Giant Spuds.  My friend Rae and I continued building our new friendship over unique food outings.  We met up on Saturday with her friend Sam, walked for 45 minutes in the wrong direction, and then stopped for lunch at a local bar before doing loving backstrokes through the racks of $58 Urban Outfitter denim jeans on sale for $9.99.

Of course I only took a picture of the last element in the pleasing afternoon trio of events; it seems like these days I can only ever manage to take pictures of food.  But, in my defense, certain things were put on this Earth solely to be photographed, including glorious giant stuffed spuds.

3. I went to the gym.  Not really news at all, and definitely not exciting.  My gym itself is pretty exciting though (as far as a gyms go at least).  The LA Fitness by my apartment is on the 7th floor of a curiously deserted "mall" (at which I've never actually seen customers or an open shop, two vital elements to a mall).  My gym's location is most exciting if you are excited about being in relatively high places overlooking city landscapes.  If that is your cup of tea, however, the LA Fitness on Clark is your place:

The coolest view (in my opinion) is from the pool, the one feature of LA Fitness evidently advertised in nursing homes city-wide (the only people I ever actually see in the pool are the second string for the FrontWalkers group who I met a few weeks ago... you can click on the link to read about that, if you forget).  That being said, I haven't actually been in the pool (I've always thought of public pools as giant Petri dishes, and I've yet to discover a personal need compelling enough to willingly spend time in a Petri dish that has been incubated with old people).  My personal opinions aside, the pool is quite lovely to look at:

4.  I went to WalMart in a leather jacket (a gift from my mom) and my Converse sneakers (a gift from Derrick):

A self-proclaimed fashion photographer stopped me, asked me where I got my jacket, and said he "loved what I was doing" with my outfit.  This either makes me a fashion savant, or (more likely) the recipient of really good gifts.  Regardless, I was feeling pretty good and thought I might have caught a whiff of an opportunity on the horizon.  Until he started talking about yogurt.  At which point I decided to move on.

I will end this somewhat dismal post here, because I've always felt that a party's over once the questionably qualified fashion photographers shows up... which seems to be the case.

Before I leave you to return to more exciting tasks (changing your cat's litter box, scraping the lint out of your dryer, etc.), I do have some important business to address.  My best friend also seems to have found herself in a new place with not much more than I had when I started (which was a bed, a TV tray, and a folding chair).  To cope, she' also started blogging.  Although she is marginally less witty and interesting than me, I think reading her blog would be a great way to transition from reading about my exciting life back to reality.  Read about her life here.

Sunday, April 21, 2013

Mama Malarkey in Chi-town!

This week absolutely flew by, but in a good way (not that "well, I've spent one of the two hours I have left to write this paper YouTube-ing cats" loss of time).

I'm finally getting a bit more responsibility at work (which is a tad overwhelming).  I've always been a firm believer, though, that life is better when you don't feel like the 12 year old in the take-your-kid-to-work scenario, which is pretty much how it feels to be "training" for 2 weeks.  And better lives really speed up time.

I also have had some wonderful company this week!  On Tuesday, I had dinner with my lovely new pal Rae at a vegan joint a few blocks from my office.  Although neither of us is vegan, there's something a little daring and exciting about trying carrot cupcakes with pseudo-cream cheese icing made completely from plant based ingredients.

You'd never guess this guy was an impostor!

But the thing that really made this week extra special was some quality time with Mother Hen herself.  (If the title of this post confuses you, don't worry - it only means that you weren't one the 2004-2005 JC JV Women's Basketball team.  I've spent a pretty abnormal amount of time this week reminiscing my younger, simpler life, a side-effect of re-discovering my Yellowcard Pandora station).

Moving on... my mom came!  She flew in Thursday afternoon, and the whole pleasant-ness of the last 4 days has made them really seem like a blur.  I haven't taken a ton of pictures, but I did manage to get a few from the highlights of the weekend.

We spent a lot of time walking...

Walking around Lakeview, seeing things like the lovely, windy Lake Michigan...

And walking around downtown, exploring the loop from rounded metro rail-track corner to rounded metro rail-track corner.

We also, predictably, ate a lot of great food.  I think that this blog is getting a bit saturated with food pictures, so I didn't bother with all of the meals (On a side note, I'm thinking about starting a new blog sometime soon about all the restaurants in Chicago.  I'd like to say I need another creative outlet, but in reality, I just think it'd give me semi-legit reason to try every. single. restaurant. in Chicago.)

I had to capture the best meal, however, which was actually a bit daring of us both.  We made a last minute decision to try a wine and cheese bar around the corner from my apartment; we didn't know exactly what we were getting ourselves into, and we definitely aren't the foodie, "Oh, this egg-custard cream souffle is divine" type... but, why not try something new?

And thank God we did!  We both started out with half a glass of wine as we watched... and devoured... a slow parade of decedent small dishes, including:

A 3 cheese tray

Pastry puffs filled with goat cheese, bacon, and pine nuts...

An arugula salad with "charred eggplant puree, herbed vinaigrette, marinated red onions, crispy
habas, and French Feta (sheep)"

And sweet potato soup, with "Kentucky Ham toast, Marieke Gouda (raw cow) marshmallow"

So although we're not really foodies, we were on Saturday night.  I will say, though, it's a lot easier to pretend anything after a few glasses of wine!

The remainder of the weekend that we didn't spend in our alter-French food authority egos, we spent as pseudo-interior decorators, tweaking the apartment to brighten it up a bit.

And as for now?  We're spending our final few hours watching Knocked Up before we head out for one final goodbye meal.  It's been so great having her here, and I'm sad to see her go.  Hopefully she'll be back soon though, and in the mean time I'll be reminded of this wonderful weekend by the few extra good-time pounds on my butt, and my much more colorful, sunny little kitchen, compliments of my colorful, sunny mother!

Sunday, April 14, 2013

When it rains, it pours.

If you weren't impressed by my previous posts, you can probably stop reading now; this post might leave you falling asleep at your computer.  I've read that the key to blogging is to use big, colorful pictures, because evidently we never really grow out of liking big, colorful things.

Being a questionably skilled blogger as it is, I take all the advice I can get to heart.  Hence the pictures that usually accompany my posts; even if what I'm saying isn't interesting, I can at least distract you with a lot of color.

The thing is about this post: I don't have any pictures to accompany the good things that happened this week.   The reason for this is a lot of rain.  You see, it started raining last Monday... and then it never stopped.  I consequently wasn't in a great mood all week... but at least I didn't short-circuit, lose my mind, then die.

Can't say the same for my iPhone.

Along with all my contacts, apps, messages, etc., I also lost all my pictures.  The extreme inconvenience of this didn't hit me all at once, though, as swiped my credit card for $165 at the Apple store.  It's  more like a slow rippage of a Band-Aid from a hairer-than-average forearm wound... drawn-out, increasingly painful, and not something to think about while you eat.

So, anyway, to make up for my lack of big, colorful pictures of my life, I'll start with this:

And I'll throw in this for good measure:

Because if that doesn't make you a little bit happy, then there's really nothing I could do anyway.

Moving on, the good things that happened this week:

1.  Tyler had to be in Chicago for work Thursday, so I got to see him Thursday night.  We tried a restaurant at Myles recommendation (Giordano's, known for their deep dish pizza).  Although the dinner company was grand, neither Tyler nor I was very impressed with the pizza; we decided on a 2.5 star rating for the joint (3 max).  We also decided that Myles was fired as restaurant adviser.

2. I tried a cycling class at the gym for the first time.  The instructor was no Rachel; there really isn't much a comparison between a middle age man of questionable sexual orientation and sizable belly pooch and my dear (almost married!) friend.  But overall, the class was good and I will probably be returning.

3.  I found my new favorite place to eat.  Yes, I say this every time... but it's my blog so I can do what I want.  It's called the Bourgeois Pig; it's a cafe where all of the sandwiches are named after books or authors, and every one sounds just as good as the next.  I liked it so much I committed the mortal sin of new city dwelling: I came here two nights in a row.  I sit here at this moment sipping a Ghirardelli's white hot chocolate as I type this post, though, so you must understand.

To make up for the pictures I lost of these things, I took my camera along for the mile walk to this quaint little cafe.  So, to keep the masses happy, here are big colorful pictures of my Sunday evening stroll through the city.

Because I'm getting tired of typing, I won't caption every picture.  They all pretty much would say the same thing though: here's what it looks like walking through Chicago, then eating in Chicago.

We start off leaving my lovely building...

And off we go...

Hope you found that as delightful and delicious as it actually was!

Sunday, April 7, 2013

Time flies when you're moseying around the city

This was supposed to be my relaxing weekend, when I would have bountiful hours to sit around and clip my toenails.  What happened?

I'll tell you what:  Chicago happened.  Again.

Although it wasn't quite the personal hygiene-filled weekend I was imagining, I did get a lot accomplished.  For one, I took a dive into the unknown by meeting up with a running group that I found online.  They call themselves the "FrontRunners/FrontWalkers," because they meet every weekend on path around the lake (the lakefront of the Front-exercisers' name).

I do not have any pics of this, but suffice it to say that they were most definitely leaning towards the FrontWalkers side of things.  And by leaning, I mean full on nose dive.  After we had gone around in a circle introducing ourselves, Girl Scout camp style, I realized that between Barney in his white Velcro Shape-Ups and Henry in his full-out windbreaker, I was not among my peers.

On the positive side, though, there was one 24 year old guy who was training for his next half who was similarly misplaced and may soon be a potential running partner (which made the experience worth it in the end).

After that, I set out on a mission that involved a large piece of plywood and chalkboard paint.  This mission failed.  I plan on elaborating more on said mission in another post, when I have more success... for now, I will leave you dangling in suspense as I move on to what kept me from me from landscaping the 10 digits of my baby seals.

And that distraction would be... well, everything.  After failing with the plywood, I didn't want to go home quite yet - the day was beautiful, and my afternoon had just opened up.

As I began strolling down a new street, I happened across a PetCo.  In their window, they had a sign saying "Take Home a Fish Today!"... and I thought to myself, "You know what?  I think I'll take home a fish today!"  So into the store I went, where I immediately was taken with this guy, the infamous Black Moor goldfish (I didn't take this picture, but this is what he looks like):

I mean, who could resist a face like that?

I was all set and ready to go; I found the biggest bowl $14.99 could get you and a few decorative pebbles, and headed straight to the closest girl in a red PetCo button-up.

Turns out, you don't just put a fish in a bowl and call it a day.  After a lengthy 10 minutes discussion about my new friend, the clerk (who obviously was not amused with being confronted by such an aquatic pet novice) had loaded me up with about $75 worth of goldfish related paraphernalia.

At which point, I decided that I didn't really need a fish.

I did decide, however, that I needed the next best thing... new shoes.  I'm pretty bad with decisions, so I spent about 45 minutes agonizing (and sending out the annoying "what do you think?" texts) over which pair I should get.

The thing about boots, though, is that they cost a lot.  More than the demanding Black Moor, frankly.  So which pair did I end up shelling out the cash for?


But, that's not to say that I won't in the future; any opinions as to which ones I should get would be appreciated.

The rest of my day was a blur of pretty much the same thing: walk into store, look at all the things, pick out favorite things, decide I don't want to spend money on things, leave store.  I will spare you the details.  I would like to show you my one purchase, however, that was quite pleasing to me.  That would be this, a black bean rice burger and homemade potato garlic soup from a restaurant called Sandwich Me In:

Which might just be my new favorite little eatery (I know, I say that every time).  This place is just so different, though, that it can't really compare to any of the other places I've been to.

I mean, they have a peanut butter and jelly Calzone (which I fully plan on trying in the next week).

They're also really into sustainability; they don't serve their food on plates because everything (well, besides the bowl) is compost-able (I think I just made that word up, but you get it).

I generally am not into the hippie, "love for all" thing that seems to be typical around here, but this idea is sort of cool.  I mean, who doesn't like Earth?

Sunday was filled with mostly dull, normal "must-do's:"  laundry, grocery shopping, cleaning the lovely new apartment, yadda yadda.  I will, again, spare you the details and just show you the things that make my life look cool.  Such as:

Impulse buys at TJ Maxx:

Chalkboard storage cans $4.99?  Yes sir-ee!

Homemade arts and crafts to spruce up the home (I was really getting into the whole sustainability thing, so this little bugger was made 100% with things that I already had lying around):

And making myself some the best food Pinterest has to offer:

Creamy tomato soup and a fried egg and pickle sandwich.

Ok, so this weekend was a little bit more lonely and less exciting than my other weekends, but there is something oddly satisfying about doing everyday errands.  It's like I'm finally coming down from Never-Never Land and Its Endless Supply of Money-Sucking Restaurants and am settling into real life here.

The best part?  I still love it.  Who know, I might be just a Bears' Fan at heart.

Just kidding.