Friday, January 31, 2014

Happy Teej Marrow Day!

Hey everyone, January 31 is a pretty special day around these parts.

Last year on January 31, my favorite crazy bitchface let some state-school educated doctor root around in her insides, take out her bone marrow, and then hop her up on "recovery" drugs.

Later, some other Doug Ross wanna-be put that bone marrow in a sick little boy. And with any luck, he is still doing okay (although even if he isn't, she gave him that many extra days for his parents to snuggle and love him).

All because T-Bone put a q-tip in her mouth.

This is your now-annual PSA that you can be as brave and strong as my favorite Ben's Chili Bowl companion. 

Take a minute out of your afternoon Facebook break and go to Be The Match to learn more about bone marrow donation. 

If you only spend today learning about it, and then an entire year screwing up the courage to do it - that's fine. People will need your bone marrow next year too. 

Learn a little about T's experience here, and read last year's Happy Teej Marrow post here

I love you, T - this is the only picture I have of us from 2013. I do not know which last pair I am referring to, but the tough-broad sentiment remains the same. Also, maybe in 2014, we can take pictures that aren't snap chats?



Thursday, January 30, 2014

2014 Truism number 3

I will never, ever pack at a reasonable hour for a trip. Not ever. Might as well utilize that procrastination time for wine and much needed catch up with my favorite neighbors.

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Chubchubs gets you full on game day

This is the first year in recent history that Boyfriend and I will not be on our couch surrounded by people we are lucky enough to call our friends, getting Sunday tipsy and eating as much as possible on Super Bowl Sunday.

Instead we will be in sunny L.A. and #sorrywearenotsorry. I need to go out of this frozen barren tundra of sadness so hard. It's time. In seven years here, the only thing I have learned is that once February hits it is time to get out. BYE.

Anyway, since we won't be around to make them, here are our two favorite game day treats (one savory, one sweet):

My fave: Buffalo Cauliflower Dip (with optional upgrade to pastry wreath).

This brought me around on the cauliflower fad. Mother Thyme is the one who hooked me up with the recipe. I'm not going to bogart her page hits - so get there, and get the recipe. My notes are:
  • You think you want to put the cauliflower in the food processor with your grating blade, and you can - but it is going to end up with more of a grated cheese like consistency, which is not my preference. I hand grate most of the half-head it is much smaller pieces, leaving some bigger chunks (like the size of a lemonhead or smaller) of cauliflower when my arm gets tired. It depends on how lazy you're feeling. 
  • I do not know why we live in a country where greek yogurt is only available in 5.3 oz. containers or Costco-sized mega gallons. This recipe calls for 6 oz. because free market economy. The 5.3 oz version is totally fine, but if you have people who are picky about their spicy, you can either stop being friends with them (my vote), or adjust the amount of Frank's you use.
  • Use Frank's. My mom tried to convince me that some sort of weird off-branded business in Maryland would be fine. But it isn't. Don't be weird or judgy. Use Franks.
  • This travels really well, and lasts for days. I make it, throw it in a pyrex (still warm) with a lid and take it to where I am going. And I've been known to eat it a week later. I'm not proud.
You feelin' FANCY? Then upgrade to a Buffalo Cauliflower Crescent Ring (adapted from this Tablespoon recipe).

Just replace her chicken dip with the cauliflower dip. And bake until golden and delicious. Some notes:
  • Some of the liquid will cook off (obvi) making this significantly spicier than just the dip. Adjust as needed. 
  • You only need about half to three-quarters of the above recipe to fill the ring. 
  • Check to make sure there are no gaps in the pastry or you will have gooey business flowing out of the ring's nether regions and the aesthetic will be ruined.
  • This travels less well. This is the shelter-in-place version of this dip.
For something sweet: Boyfriend swears by these Oreo Footballs. People request them, even at parties that are in no way football related.  He uses almond-chocolate bark instead of the Baker's semi-sweet and you can't even tell.

These are food processor friendly and do not really take any time at all. When dipping into the chocolate, he prefers to dip one half of the football, let it cool, and then dip the other half. The fork dipping method is unreliable at best.

Happy Football! Now we just need a recommendation of a L.A. restaurant/bar to watch the game.




Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Hazel eats


video


For Christmas, Santa Claus got Hazel the type of present my grandmother is
 notorious for getting people- the type that you didn't ask for, that you didn't need, and that is making your life way worse than than no present at all.

Her vet, Dr. Danny (seriously) who is all of ten years old told us last year that our baby girl is chubby and if she ever wants to make the cheerleading squad she's gonna have to drop some of that 6 year-old pudge that cats get when they are not required to actually hunt for her food. 

He said she needed a feeding mechanism that was mentally stimulating because that's totally not psychologically messed up at all for a girl who is overrating because she is sad and lonely. 

So we got her this half-moon thing that she hated but eventually it became no longer a challenge for her. Eventually kids learn how to climb up to the top shelf and you have to start all over again. 

So for Christmas, Santa went to Fab.com and got her this thing that basically looks like it should have come with some teenage mutant ninja turtle action figures.

She is still not speaking to me. What kind of terrible cat mother am I? As if wrapping it in Santa paper made if less of a dick move on my part. 

She has started to get the hang of how to eat out of it. What I did not take into consideration was that for the most part her method is to stick her paw in the little bin and then pull it out so as to fling as much cat food all over the floor as possible and then just eat it right from the filthy wood.

Not only is she pissed at me, and covering my floor in passive aggressive crunchies, she now has the table manners of a goddamned raccoon. 

When that method of eating doesn't work she just waits until three in the morning and stands on my side of the bed yowling her displeasure like a hippie on a hunger strike. 

I am not sure why I feel the need to torture this animal in such an elaborate and overpriced way. I really felt like it was in her best interest, which is fairly indicative of where I am in "starting a family," department. 


Seriously, what self respecting animal drinks like this?

Friday, January 24, 2014

The first organizer

Things we take seriously in this house.


Christmas ornament organizers.

After casually mentioning that perhaps tossed-in-a-box-with-some-newspaper might not be the best way to store all these very fragile Christmas ornaments we have acquired (although, to be fair, that is how it has been done in my mother's house for hundreds of years), I then tossed all the ornaments in a box. But I was told a new solution was being workshopped.

Two weeks of intense research by Boyfriend followed while I completely and totally stopped caring and moved onto other things like eating all the cheese I could find.

Last night the organizers arrived.  Three of them. With bonus wreath organizer. All attempts to help with the set-up process were brutally shot down as this was "important."

Eventually I was given permission to put some ornaments in the newly constructed organizers, and then was told I was doing it wrong. I do not think of myself as particularly skilled at anything but being told that I could not handle this task was a little much for my dignity so I went to bed.

I awoke this morning to find a completely organized Christmas situation in my home. Things that already kind of home had a new and better home that was color coordinated and built to last.

For the record, the ornaments of my childhood remain stored in the shirt boxes that they have been in since the early 80's. Most of them pre-date my 21 year-old sister's existence on this planet.

It is a strange thing combining lives and traditions and finding your joint way through life. You are probably doing it wrong. But it will be okay.

Thursday, January 23, 2014

TBIF: On my mobile

This Thursdays' Best Internet Finds posts comes courtesy of my lovely Mother and her knowledge of all things Frederick County, Maryland.

Two girls I went to high school with are doing amazing, world-changing things. Which is exciting because a vast majority of the news out of my hometown is about pregnancy, or jail time. So, bonus points for the news not being those things right off the bat.

As much as my mother would like to have you believe otherwise, cell phones are officially and completely the future. Especially in developing countries, access to cell phones can literally open the world to women. There are downfalls but the world is not going to step backward any time soon, so we might as well do everything we can to help these women step forward.

Also, bitches love cell phone covers.

Enter Kidogo Kidogo. Created by two girls I went to high school with (who have names, you know) Kim and Kristen Waeber.

Here's the deal. You buy one of these hella cute cellphone covers.

My favorite?


FLAMINGOS! They're perfect and pink!

And then you get a friend to buy one too.  Might I recommend the trees? 

And with those simple purchases ($30 is what I spend on Starbucks in two weeks) a woman in Tanzania receives a cellphone, a sim card, and phone credits to help her start new connected life.

The stories on their site are so simple and amazing. The thing you use to play candy crush is changing lives.

Guys, this is as easy as getting pregnant, but way, way better.

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Redventure.

Last fall I gave my green wellies a spectacular send off with six-hour romp through the rain and the mud and the discarded, half-eaten bagels.

Finally, in early January, I bought a new pair of boots.


Grown-ups don't wear red boots. Grown-ups wear sensible boots in sensible colors like navy or charcoal. But if I am going to have to traipse around in vortex-like temperatures in a colorless, bleak Chicago winter, the least I can do is bring some good ole fashion adventure boots along for the ride. These boots are made for snow drifts and mucky, grey sidewalks. They are made for spur of the moment escapes from hibernation and the mindless trudging to my warm, but ultimately stuffy and very-grown-up office building. They have been my mostly companions for the past three weeks and I love them.

They are me. Sensible and impractical. Fun and safe (look at those reflector lights!). Warm and yet, always in need of another layer.  If I have to spend my winter anywhere other than under the covers, I'm glad I get to spend it with you.

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Namaste. Bless You.

I think that yoga might be the one form of exercise I can do constantly without getting sick of while still deriving some sort of athletic benefit, but my current house of yoga costs way more than I can justify spending on anything these days. So I recently canceled my membership.

I think of yoga as a workout, it is how I justify eating all the snacks (and yes, I know we don't actually need to justify snacks, but unless you are going to buy me new pants - justify) but I know that for most people yoga has some deeper meaning. 

For the longest time, when I was told (asked?) to set an intention at the beginning of class, it was always, "let's just get through this." Then, when Boyfriend's mom got sick, the idea of dedicating my practice became a habit.  Occasionally it was for someone else, sometimes it was for me.

Today, I had an epiphany in class. Maybe it was because I was the sweatiest I had ever been. So sweaty, I thought I would dissolve into a swampy pile of yoga sweat goo. I just realized that this is as close to prayer I will ever get.

I have never been religious, and it has always felt pretty douchey to pray when things get bad, when I have never once prayed when things are good. Plus, if there is a man upstairs, he is probably actually a lady and thusly hates hypocrites. Lady Gods cannot abide by hypocrites.

When I dedicate a practice to someone it feels like an opportunity to try to take some of their pain or sadness or confusion away. As I sweat and strain I reach out into the universe, find one person and say, "I'm already working hard, give me some of your weariness because I can take it."

It feels stupidly wonderful (and very cliche-y) to have a workout with bonus substance. To not only feel like I've earned that extra beer but that I have stepped out of me and all of my goofy first world problems and given an hour and fifteen minutes of my breath and self to someone else.

Being the dick pragmatist I have always been, thoughts and breath come up short when what people need are medicine and cures, but as I have gotten older and life has gotten more real I have realized that thoughts (and prayers, if that is what you are cooking) are pretty valuable too.

I have about a month of yoga left in my membership before I move into other things and I try to find other ways to devote myself to others but until then, I will celebrate these opportunities to sweat it out for others.

And please, someone remind Boyfriend when I come home just smelling like a hockey locker room that sometimes, I do this for him.

Monday, January 20, 2014

Day Off - Keep on keepin' on.

I forgot I had MLK day off over and over again. Which is kind of a problem because it means I am missing a deadline (oops), but it also meant I had this magical free day with no plans or priorities.

I have a tendency of letting a day like this slip away in front of the TV or (way worse) facebook. The secret is never getting comfortable.

The day started with eggs and planning.

First things first: If you are not cooking your eggs in coconut oil, you are doing yourself a grave disservice. Everything should be cooked in coconut oil, it is so good.

Then I took a massive organizational project. I managed to go through the pantry, the guest room closet, and my closet with only a brief break to sit with Hazel and watch the end of Tommy Boy.

I am giving myself a bit of a respite because I started watching Top of the Lake and it has confused me enough to require a sit down (also because it was time for lunch). I will get through another episode (Maybe it will make sense after another one? Why is British TV so complicated?) and have picked out a dinner recipe before conquering one of our storage closets and the pile of recycling.

The secret is to not sit. The minute I sat down I got sucked into a vortex of being seated. While I kept myself moving it was easy enough to keep moving.

Movies are better than TV. Movies end and remind you to keep working. Finish a project before starting another one.  Drinking tea helps. Take a break every now and then to rub your cat down with a dryer sheet (so static-y!).

Feeling productive feels so much better than sleeping in the long run. Happy day off!


Friday, January 17, 2014

2014 truisms pt. 2

You really just need a good blanket.

Everything will work itself out, a soft warm blanket makes it better.

Thursday, January 16, 2014

TBIF: Tee blues

Sometimes you make rules that are rational and necessary. Like "stop sleeping with that guy," or "try to be only a half hour late to work at least a couple times a week."

Right now, my rule is, "No more t-shirts."

There is a t-shirt problem in my apartment. They're everywhere. In every drawer and stacked in piles in my closet. There are t-shirts in bags that I've sworn will go to good will and an even bigger pile that I have double sworn are going to be made into a quilt.

I have been pretty good about no more t-shirts and added the challenge of no more tank tops to the rule. Everything was going Just.Fine.

And then I stumbled on this picture.


This is easily the most badass photo, possibly of all time, and I do not even care if it is photoshopped, because it is that good.

I had to go on a quest for these shirts because hot damn do I love manners and brunch.

It did not take too long to find Buy Me Brunch and decide that I wanted nearly every single shirt they sell. It hurts me. It physically hurts to not already have the "Buy Me Brunch" tank on its way to my house. 

Every single shirt I see has people who I know need it in their lives. My brother? Absolutely needs a snuggle monster tee. 

Most of my friends from high school (and some of my friends from the rest of my life) need the Surprise I'm Drunk tee.

If it had not literally just been Christmas about six minutes ago, and if I did not spend my life in everything except t-shirts, ugh, it would be mine.

I'll see if I can wait until February before I bend because my will power is actually nothing. For those who do not make arbitrary rules, buy a shirt. Immediately.

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Plan it out

I asked for a planner for Christmas.

I don't really know why I put it on my wishlist, but in theory I had problems with the fact that my calendar was a slave to "the cloud," and things could disappear on a whim in a way they can't when you write them down with pen and paper. 

I got a day planner, just exactly how I asked and it just kind of sat around getting water damage and being generally one-more-thing in my bag. 

But now, it is how I make the sausage.

I have always wondered how people make the blogs work. How do they come up with something to write every single day and get it done with all the other things they need to do.

As I think more about blogging the question that has been at the forefront is "how?"

So for the moment, this is the recipe for success. One sharpie pen (the.best), one Mac book and one planner full of ideas of what to put out there on the Internet.

I am grateful for this system of knowing what to write. I am excited to finally figure out the Why. 

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Bounce for Joy

I get really, really excited when Target sells fancy clothes that I can afford. My Jason Wu black cocktail dress continues to be one of my most favorite pieces of clothing. I wear it at least four times a year.

I am hella pumped for the Peter Pilotto for Target collection. It gives people like me, who like to play it safe in the colors and patterns department, an opportunity to branch out and try new things without spending approximately ALL of the dollars.

I am not wild about the separates, but I love the dresses in the collection.




 
Refinery29 has the whole look book for your lunch time browsing pleasure.
 
What I love even more than these two dresses, which I will get dirty and fight to the death for, is the fact that when I searched Peter Pilotto Target, this is what came up:
 

Dude makes real fun printed dresses and trampolines. I'm sold.



Monday, January 13, 2014

Juan at a time

This blog post was supposed to be about the Bachelor because I just watched my first three hours of it ever and I have some Things. To. Say.

But instead its about a sick boyfriend who needs pats on the head and gatorade with-a-straw.

Boys are quite possibly the most pathetic of the ill. I am pretty terrible at being sick, but stoicism has never been my strong suit. Boys puff up their chests and show us their tail feathers until they have a temp-a-ture and a yucky tummy. Then it is all sleeping and wallowing in the biggest ocean of self pity that can be found.

So tonight its disinfecting the entire house, keeping the cat from making too much noise and putting the ginger ale on ice.

On the bright side, I got to be a part of this conversation:

After telling me he didn't want anything besides a single piece of bread, he looked at me for a minute, "Um."

"Yeah, what do you need?"

"Um. Are there, like, stomach flu shelves?"

"What do you mean?"

"Like, you know, to sort things."

"To sort things?"

"Yeah, to, you know, sort things for your stomach flu."

"To sort things where?"

"You know. In bed."

"Oh."

"That's a thing?"

"No. Sorry. That is not a thing."

Friday, January 10, 2014

Work friends

Since moving to Chicago, I have had only had two opportunities to make work friends. The first was people who I would have made friends with already because we all improvised together, it was just an excuse to get paid to hang out.

This new job (how long does it get to be new? Six months? Twelve? Eighteen?) is awesome because its people who I never would have scampered across who make my life feel more full. I am grateful for their experience, I am grateful for their insight, I am grateful for their willingness to be silly in an environment that does not reward silly as much as it should. 

These are the first set of people who make me realize how fun it is to work in an office where we work hard and then drink hard and then nap hard.

I left many of them to their own devices at a rainy bus stop tonight and I solemnly swear they are up to no good, but I am happy they are mine. 

Thursday, January 09, 2014

TBIF: for Bros and Creepers.

Mel Evans might be the funniest person I know in real life. Its real creepy and weird how much I like her and not-so-secretly would like to be her friend. Its mega strange and if she is reading this (which, lets be real, she isn't.) she would probably be hella uncomfortable and rethink all those cat pictures of mine she liked on instagram.

At any rate. She is a contributor to the perfect on-the-clock time-waster Bro Jackson which is basically if Deadspin was like, "Fuck you, Nick Denton, we're in charge. Jezebel, you can come too. Be cool."

Her columns, introducing bros to the finer, loved-by-the-ladies, things in life, are consistently hilarious and worth a read. This week's installment about Flowers in the Attic was particularly eloquent and on point as it discussed why girls in 8th grade are weirdly into incest and inappropriate boinking of other varieties.

I, myself, did not read Flowers in the Attic, though I have no idea how I missed such an essential part of adolescence, though I am sure this rationally explains my fears of commitment and twins.

What I did read was Return to the Secret Garden which had to have had the same effect. My mom purchased it for me in an insane error of judgement (seriously, do not judge a book by its cover unless you want your child's favorite childhood stories being beat up and kicked down a flight of stairs).

The Amazon page for this book is really quite spectacular. The summary has a bulleted list of facts. And those facts are mostly about the original. Also, everyone in the comments section is mad. The Amazon page might be more entertaining than the book itself.

There are some passages to that book that I read so often as a ten year-old that I still have them committed to memory despite my insistence on killing of brain cells at an alarming rate in the interim.

The book got passed around my middle school like the new Green Day CD. By the time I retired it, the spine had been taped back together numerous times, so exhausted had it been lying open for the young, impressionable girls to learn about the intricacies of marrying your cousin (spoiler alert) and the complications that arise after illicit garden sex.

I cannot in good faith recommend this book. I can tell you that if you should find it for sale for under a $1 then sure, let me know how it goes. I can in good faith tell you to be really, really awkward around Mel Evans and read Bro Jackson around 11:30 a.m. when you have already given up on the day.

Wednesday, January 08, 2014

truism 2014 v.1

A night where I can be in bed by 10 p.m. with a book in my hand feels like a good day. Even though it actually means I am ignoring all the work I have to do and avoiding all the cleaning my house needs - it feels good which has to be enough sometimes.

Tuesday, January 07, 2014

Doc Tuesday

After surviving our journeys to work amidst the arctic vortex today, we came home to bowls of soup with a side of Blackfish and then Bully.

And we reached the conclusion that humans are the worst.

But soup is good.

Monday, January 06, 2014

Polar Vortex Day!

I am very grateful that my current work schedule requires me to take one day off every week. It came in very handy last year when we were running all over the country and it came in even more handy when people started talking about how Chicago was going to turn into northern Canada by Monday morning.

I curled up Sunday afternoon, buzzed and joyous that I didn't have to wait for someone to tell me if I had to bundle up like an Eskimo and trek downtown.

Polar Vortex day included saying good bye to Christmas, folding approximately ALL the laundry, discovering the Good Wife on the Hallmark Channel and the Evil Apple app for iphone.

Evil Apple was perfect for a whole herd of friends with a grown-up snow day. Although it is taking one million years to get everyone to be checking their phone at the same time.

And now we'll finish off the night with a delightful boozy toast to Chiberia and having to bundle up for work tomorrow morning.


We're not actually stranded on the surface of Mars, but we might as well drink like we are. Super grateful to have had these things on hand, although, like any good WASP, I would never run out of booze during inclement weather.

Saturday, January 04, 2014

No Place like it.

I had such an amazing time while I was home for Christmas. One of the best adventures being the day that nearly everyone on my Mom's side of the family went into D.C. for a day of museums.

This is how I feel about being home.


Thanks to my baby sister, 'Bear for shooting this amazing vid.

Thursday, January 02, 2014

Be Happy. part 1.

My actual "resolution" this year is to spend all the gift cards and gift certificates cluttering up our junk drawer. It took about four of them expiring for me to decide to do.something about it.

My Intention for 2014 is to be happy. It seems simple enough, but my default feeling is anxiety and frustration so it is less simple than it would be for normal people. Naturally, to be truly happy, I would have to come into some independent wealth, so I could just live on fanciful whims all goddamned day but with that not happening anytime soon - I am going to make a conscious effort to do and find things that make me truly, legitimately happy.

We're going to do one thing a month, because I gotta go slow with things that are unfamiliar and scary like happiness.

Month 1.


For the past seven years, my dad has very generously provided me with an annual subscription to The New Yorker to make sure I do not lose touch with my superior, erudite East Coast roots while surrounded by these midwestern yokels.

Without The New Yorker, I would know nothing about artificial food flavoring, the Miami Marlins, the favelas of Rio De Janeiro, and would not have read my three favorite articles of all time: Max at Sea, Trial by Fire, and the one that ALWAYS comes to mind when people ask what I've gained from getting the magazine for the better part of a decade: The Itch.

But reading the New Yorker leaves little time for reading anything else. My subscription stopped unexpectedly at the end of November and I found myself cruising through three books in four weeks. So when Dad offered it back up yesterday, I said no. Because I want to read books. The books above and the unseen ones floating around in tubes of my (still in its packaging because I am waiting for my cover and do not want to take any chances) Kindle.

Reading the New Yorker is wonderful but it also kind of feels like work. Its a weekly assignment I feel guilty about not finishing on time. Reading books just makes me happy.  Right now I'm knee-deep in And the Mountains Echoed and its amazing. I am deliriously satisfied to be reading something so good.

To books and happiness in 2014.

Wednesday, January 01, 2014

New things!

I've been thinking a lot about blogging and this blog and the Internet and the meaning of life over the past few weeks and months and I have really decided that it is time to shit or get off the pot.

So, it's time for something new. New Year, new focus, new intentions. I was hoping that like magic that the new would just appear overnight. Instead it is all still up in my head where I left it. 

So, hang tight. Think about your intentions for this year and finish up all the Christmas cookies. They are not going to eat themselves. 

Happy 2014.

She's pint-sized and amazing.