Thursday, October 30, 2008

Attracting crazy people

I am a freak magnet. If there is a crazy or wildly insane person with a certain radius, they find me and somehow lose their sh*t at me. This point has been agreed up on by several of my friends. The phrase, "that only happens to you" is said to me a lot.

I have zero idea what I wear or do that attracts these people to me. Perhaps it's some sort of sick pheromone that brings them in my direction, without me knowing it.

For example, over a year ago, a woman bumped into me on the sidewalk across from a CVS. I told her to watch where she was going (she didn't even fake apologize) and the woman promptly turned and started s-c-r-e-a-m-i-n-g at me. She used words I can't even say on this blog. Yes, my comment might have antagonized her a bit but she got so out of control that my friend Ryan had to physically hold her back from attacking me.  

Then, last January, I went grocery shopping with my dad and an elderly woman at the Jewel began screaming swear words at me when I moved my cart around hers and dinged her cart by accident. I did apologize after it happened but that didn't stop the woman from tearing into me. Dad looked horrified but I just sighed, as it did not surprise me in the least.

Yesterday even, I was sitting on the bus, en route to work, and a woman behind me grabbed or petted my hair as I was getting ready to leave. To be fair, there is a 50 percent chance my hair was grabbed by accident in the crush to exit the bus, but there was a definite grab and hold before my hair was relinquished. Maybe the Bumble & Bumble shampoo I use does smell that good. People are apparently compelled to hold it.

See, I bring out freakish behavior! Watch out if you're ever around me because I can't guarantee what will happen. You've been warned. 

FYI: Happy Halloween everyone! I'm not a costume person so I will be dressing up as a young-professional-woman-dressed-for-casual-Friday. I hope no one steals that idea.

Big Halloween weekend plans for anyone else? Costume choices or ideas? I'm always open to hearing people's creative choices. One year a friend made a costume out of an old moving box and went as "box of wine" with Franzia painted on the side Genius.

Reader note: Thank you SO much everyone for your kind comments on my rockin' legwarmers. Everyone's sweet comments really made my day :) I'm glad you also enjoyed the 80s TV flashback, but I did forget "Saved by the Bell," which was a horrible oversight. I will post a link on Sunday to the pattern for the legwarmers in case you want to make them yourself. It might be tough to knock out in a weekend but definitely in two weeks, depending how tall you want them to be. You guys are awesome!

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Rockin' the 80s one leg at a time

Oh that's right, I have something very exciting to share on my blog tonight...the introduction of my finally finished, much anticipated (by me) legwarmers.

Ladies and gentleman, meet Leggies, my legwarmers, which I finished this weekend with a little swearing, needles and sewing. 

This is very exciting for me because I did them, all on my own (with some help from Yoda Amanda). Sure they don't look professional and yes in hindsight I might have changed a few things, but I did it on my own and I think they look pretty hot, especially with these flats.

So watch out Chicago, Leggies and I are taking it to the streets! The tourists should have a field day when they see me, fortunately Speedy will help "class them up."

Now I have to find my next knitting-related project. Hmm, might be scarf time again but time with some purl action.

I am a domestic goddess. Now I just need to find a way for "jelly" shoes to come back, oh how I miss those.

To celebrate this knitting achievement, please enjoy more favorite things of mine from the 80s because looking back, I can laugh ;) Let me know what else I'm missing from this wonderous list.

Monday, October 27, 2008

Laundry wars

When I first moved to Chicago, I lived in a studio apartment that would the equivalent of a dog cage in size - but with a park view. So as I would relax on my bed while watching TV, because I didn't have luxuries like a couch or chair, I would dream about apartment amenities that would help me know when I "made it" in the city.

The amenities I dreamed of were in this order:
  • Dishwasher
  • Electric stove
  • Bedroom (no more studio living)
  • In-unit washer and dryer
  • Doorman
I'm pleased to say that in my near four-years here, I have achieved three of the five, with the real  "crown jewel" aka in-unit washer and dryer still alluding me. I daydream about being able to lounge around my  home in only a robe, doing laundry so all of my clothes are being washed at one time. That's acceptable in your home but not out in public (shoot.)

So if I don't have laundry in unit, that means I hang out with the rest of the people in my building, fighting for three washers and dryers, doing laundry some times at very odd hours. Normally, doing laundry isn't an issue, but there are some tough old people in my building who like to make it difficult on me sometimes.

For example, in my building we have the beauty of a "free dryer," which is a dryer that somehow has malfunctioned and doesn't require change to dry the clothes inside. It's like a gift from heaven, except that people purposely wait to use that dryer because they get to save $1 in change. And because I'm ridiculously cheap, the free dyer is the greatest thing ever. Sure laundry takes a little longer but it helps me extend my quarter stash a little bit more. So it's worth it, except when someone starts hogging it. I don't like that.

I don't encounter this woman aka "the hogger" often, but when I do, I have to sigh because I know laundry will not go smoothly. She brings her laundry down in plastic bags, which she also uses as rain boots and rain hat. She'll do a few loads at a time and make sure everyone knows that she has "reserved" dryers ahead of time. Which you can't do. And she'll tell me that she's "reserved" the free dryer already because she's put money in it, even though her clothes are in the washer. Really? Put money in the free dryer? I smell a liar. Don't piss on my back and tell me it's raining honey, I didn't fall off the turnip truck yesterday.

I recently challenged her on these reservations, saying that she can't hold dryers and that it's first come first serve. My laundry was in first so as long as I get down there before her, I get to pick whatever dryer I want to use. She starts getting upset and sputtering at me, telling me that I don't know what I'm talking about. I try to calm her down, saying I meant no harm (seriously who wants a fight?) but she starts to yell and I opt to back away rather than continue this. Fast forward 32 minutes when my load is done (yes I set a timer in my apartment so I don't forget or lose my spot for the dryer) and she is WAITING THERE next to the dryer, reminding me that it's reserved for her. O-M-G are you kidding me?

I realize that she's older, lives alone and likely doesn't have anything better to do than to worry about her laundry. I'm sad enough already doing laundry on a weekend night, but you will be proud to know that I was the bigger person....and told her to get the f*ck off the dryer. We were going to do this the easy way or the ugly way.

After a little sputtering and telling me I'm a bad person, she surrendered the dryer and I got to use it for free. A note though, telling me I'm  a bad person doesn't faze me, that's like telling me my hair is brown. I know that. 

Please tell me I am not the only person who had laundry-related issues like this?

Reader note:  I really liked everyone's comments from yesterday. I'm so glad that we're learning things together. Rebekah's comment about "save the purse, save the world" made me laugh hysterically and Joy is right, going out with her might melt my brain, but it would be so worth it. I also appreciated the "Sex and the City" movie comments. I really wanted to like that movie, being a huge fan of the TV show, but it fell short for me. Too much product placement, but awesome fashion.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Key learnings, prowlin' and randoms

It's Sunday again and in Chicago, we have gale-force winds outside, which are gusting up to 50 m.p.h at times. So earlier today, I rescheduled my regular walk because I was nearly blown over from the strong winds (and to blow me over, that has to be a strong). Now, I'm sitting here and looking back on my weekend, enjoying a Honey Crisp apple (my favorite fall treat).

Please join me on my learning expedition.

Key Learnings
  • Channeling E.T., Rocky and the Unabomber when dressing for your weekly walk will get you strange looks on the street
  • There is no shame in hiding your favorite purse under your coat to protect it from the rain, even if you look ridiculous
  • If you can help it, don't come home to a messy apartment after a long day
  • Volunteering can actually be fun
  • When in doubt a milkshake or chocolate donut will make you feel better
  • It's okay to nap before going out to the bars, even if you're in your late 20s
  • When it's cold out, fashion doesn't matter. Wear a proper coat and keep the cute outfit on underneath (example, a gold lame, backless dress with a chain back is not appropriate when it's 40 degrees outside)
  • Carpenter jeans do still exist and still make your butt and hips look big
  • No matter how cold it is, ice cream always tastes good
  • The "Sex and the City" movie, even on second watch, wasn't any better than the first time I saw it
  • The lack of available champagne at my salon is unacceptable
  • Beer hungover is better than wine hungover
  • Prowlin' is fun, when there are guys to be on the prowl for
Yes that's right, Cheryl and I went "prowlin'" Saturday night for guys...because I still have to make out with three of them this year. 

We got dressed up and went out in Lakeview, but unfortunately I missed the memo that this weekend everyone was going to be out of town. It's like those weekends in college when everyone goes home and you don't and there is no real reason (like a holiday) why everyone is gone. Two unpacked bars, three beers and two vodka tonics later, it was time to call it a night. 

Guess we'll have to try prowlin' another time. Watch out guys! I was unsuccessful in my makeout mission now but that will not always be the case.

I completely forgot to mention that I was able to do a mini-bloggy meet-up last week with D from All Things G&D. A Madtown, Wisconsin blogger, we got together for dinner at Grand Luxe Cafe (with a window seat) and had a lovely time chatting. It was so nice to talk Wisconsin, design, blogging, work and shopping. Plus, I introduced her to my "happy place" aka Nordstrom's and its shipping policy to Wisconsin. I cannot wait to meet up with her again and go shopping!

Finally, I finished Twilight today, after going on a marathon reading session this afternoon. I've been delinquent in my reading because of my legwarmer mission, but fortunately reading is back on now! Overall, I liked the book and I'm curious to see what happens in the next installment. Fortunately, it's an easy read, but I thought it definitely got more interesting in the last several chapters of the book. Promise, no spoilers but so far it's good :)

How was everyone else's weekend?

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Superstar dancer

No I'm not actually a superstar dancer. I've even commented on here before that I'm more of a "she looks like she's having a seizure" dancer, but in my head, I'm the lady of the dance!

So it's hard sometimes to keep the need to dance hidden inside. I practically have my iPod attached to me so I'm always listening to music, in fact, I prefer to think of it as living my life to an awesome soundtrack of the Beatles, Paul McCartney, mix music and classic rock. Yeah that's a good way to think about it.

This means that I've been "moved" to dance in public at times, especially when a good song comes on. I can't help but shake my hips a little bit. Normally, I reserve this to happen when I'm alone in an elevator or at home. My parents house is pretty big so when they're gone, the music is on and I'm Flashdancin' or Risky Businessin' it around the living room.

But the need to dance or sing out loud to music also comes at inopportune times, like at work at my desk (it's so hard to keep quiet in a cubicle) or when I'm walking down the street. You'll regularly see me mouthing the lyrics to songs or busting out into a Mariah moment in an elevator (sometimes when I forget people are standing behind me). Oh, I also am totally tone deaf (thanks Rock Band for reminding me!) so imagine the sound of my voice with no music and some 1980s dance moves and you would think I've gone totally insane.

But in my head, I am bustin' a move and droppin' it like it's hot. And it is. It's even more fun when friends get in on it too. Ryan, Sarah and I started dancing at a restaurant once and some people were more than horrified but sometimes, when it's pouring rain and you're soaked, why not? I'm even more proud to say that at a San Francisco bar (with no dancing) several of us sectioned off an area just to dance. It was very clear we were a) confused as to where we were drinking and b) tourists.

I even feel like dancin' now, so it's time to turn on my latest song addiction, "Disturbia" and bust a few moves.

Am I the only one who does this? Or does anyone else have a song that triggers the need to dance? Plans for the weekend are also welcome!

Tuesday, October 21, 2008


How do you decide what's "blogworthy?"

When I first started little little gem, I said that everything was game for blog fodder. I think this freaked a few friends out, causing one or two to ask for photo approval if they were involved. 

But along the way, following my "everything's game" vision, I seriously pissed off some family members. So now I've amended my blog vision a bit, even if it kills me not to write about certain things I encounter. It's like the ultimate test of my self-control. I think of my blog as a journal of things that happen to me on a daily basis, but sometimes, I have to know when to keep my mouth shut - something I haven't totally figured out yet in my late-20s.
But just because some family things have to stay off-blog, that doesn't mean I can't find other amusing things, right?

So to avoid pissing off anyone else I'm related to and who buys me a Christmas gift, I opt to share embarrassing things that happens to me and taking random pictures so that I have something dumb/entertaining to share. I know I'm easily amused by this.


Beginning of a Wisconsin fish boil (oh boy does that flame get big!)

Yes, this is tiger wallpaper

Nowadays, my dad sighs when he sees me taking out my camera to take "geez, another" picture. 

Here's a snippet of our standard conversation:

"Why do you need to take a picture of that?"

"Dad, I might want to blog about it, and if I don't take a picture of it, I'll want to write about it and have nothing to share."

"But is it really necessary?"

"Yes, it is, now hold my purse so I can get a better shot from the ground."

I'm like a kid playing in the dirt while my dad holds my purse, which I'm sure temporarily emasculates him.

I guess my questions to the group tonight are:
  • How do you decide what to blog about
  • Is there anything that automatically stays off-blog?
Reader Note: Thank you to everyone for your comments on yesterday's trip down movie memory lane. Oh my gosh the comments were so much fun to read! I do have to say that one movie that came up a few times, "Labyrinth" was definitely a movie I remember, same with "Willow." And now that I have the Jem song stuck in my head, I'll have to mix it up with She-Ra, also a great mention, and of course Strawberry Shortcake. Anyone remember Tinkerbell nail polish??

Monday, October 20, 2008

Trip down movie memory lane

This weekend, I watched "Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull" and I'll be honest, it wasn't great. Compared to the originals movies, it used way too much CGI and everything had "soft lighting." I mean, come on. 

Anyhow, this movie and my yearning for a "Raiders of the Lost Ark" DVD got me thinking about movies that had a big impact on me...for more than one reason. Many of them are not recent, but whenever I see them on television, I am compelled to watch because it reminds me of being a kid.
  • Raider's of the Lost Ark - Harrison Ford when he was younger = smoking hot. Let's just say this movie was released during formative years and I thought tall men were as dashing and looked as good in a fedora with a whip, meow!

  • Aliens Scared me beyond belief and made me scream out loud like, well a little girl in the theater

  • Jaws - Yep this movie has made me scared of the water, including bathtubs
  • The Muppet Movie - I grew up on "The Muppet Show" so I'll always love Jim Henson, but I used to hide behind my parents big brown chair when Animal got big near the end. There is something about Miss Piggy though that makes me laugh

  • Star Wars - I wasn't born yet when this came out in theaters, but I do remember watching it in my stepmom's basement on Christmas Eve as a teenager thinking, whoa this is cool. And again, Harrison Ford = hot (but in need of a better haircut)

  • E.T. This is the first movie I ever saw in the theaters and of course, I hid behind my hands most of the time
  • Back to the Future - I don't remember if I saw this in the theater, but it sure made time travel fun, and of course introduced me to the words "flux capacitor," which I thought was real. And, of course, who doesn't love Huey Lewis? 
Okay these are probably the cliched choices (minus the Muppet Movie) but I vividly remember a strong emotional reaction to each. But looking back on my list, three or four of these movies scared me in some way, so maybe that just goes to show I'm a sissy, scardey cat.

And while it's not movie-related, my first real teenage celebrity crush was Luke Perry. I used to have pictures of him from Bop and Teen Beat magazines on my wall. Jason Priestley was a close second. Look how adorable and tortured they look!

Oh and what the heck, I'll throw this in too to see if anyone remembers her....

I used to LOVE watching her cartoon on Saturday morning, dancing along. Plus her name is similar to mine so I used to call myself "Jem." It sort of sounds like Jess. I was so misguided. But this video brought back some serious memories.

So what movies hold special memories for you?

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Key learnings and tailgating

It's that time again, the weekend is over and as I sit here with a cup of cocoa and soft lighting, I'll share with you some of the things I learned this weekend.

Sit back and enjoy the sharing.

Key Learnings:
  • When you put your wallet in your desk drawer and say out loud, "hey I have to remember to put this back in my purse so I don't leave it at the office tonight," actually do that. CVS isn't happy (neither are you) when you realize that you didn't follow through with that piece of advice
  • It's okay to break your rule of "not drinking before noon" on college game day (Blood Mary's at 9 a.m. will do that)
  • Going to a home game and supporting the visiting team in the stands leads to a lot of teasing and taunting
  • Guys that "chew" are automatically unattractive
  • Spending eight hours in the car in one day can make you and your carmates crabby
  • Continuously eating food and walking can keep you awake
  • Shrimp on the grill is delicious
  • French onion dip with potato chips is like a slice of heaven
  • I should not own a dog
  • When you shower on a daily basis and then skip a day, it makes you very heightened to your temporary new smell
  • Port-O-Johns are never enjoyable to use
  • Finding your favorite college, non-Boones, beverage at a bar can totally make your day
  • It's always good to get out of the city for a day or two and enjoy the country scenery. There's something soothing about looking out at a farm field with the wide open sky and fall colors
As I mentioned on Friday, I went to Iowa for the Iowa vs. Wisconsin NCAA football game this weekend. And if you follow college sports, you will know how that game turned out. So that was definitely not a high point of my whirlwind 24 hours, but I do have to tell you about some amazing tailgating.

My family members are not big tailgaters. We're more of the "let's go pay for someone to cook and wait on us rather than cook it ourselves" kind of people and we don't like to carry all the stuff to the game and store it. So I was forewarned about the amazing tailgating that I would be a part of before the game on Saturday. And my warning was correct because it was AWESOME (said in a sing-songy voice).

I was reminded how much I love french onion dip with salty potato chips and homemade mac and cheese. This on top of an amazing spread of chips/salsa, cheese squares (also a solid choice), grilled shrimp with butter and garlic salt, homemade trail mix with pretzels, Chex Mix, pecans and corn puffs all mixed with caramel. O-M-G it was amazing.  So I thought that was great but then the pork chops, homemade mac and cheese, baked beans and potato salad came out, of course followed by two dessert trays. Seriously, I did not think it was possible to eat that much and not keel over. That's what Bloody Mary's will do for you :)

The food was amazing, which will now become amazing leftovers this week. Even better! We were able to tailgate on someone's front lawn near the Iowa football stadium, which was perfect to get into the game on time, but our restroom facilities consisted of a Port-O-John in the backyard, which the men used more as a leaning device while urinating in the bushes. Gosh I love college football.

So that is the story of my key learnings for this week and my awesome tailgating story. How was everyone else's weekend?

Reader Note: Thanks everyone for your comments on my personal. I appreciate the offers to date me too! Very sweet. Believe it or not, I'm not that picky when it comes to guys, but I'm really glad you all enjoyed it!

Thursday, October 16, 2008

My personal ad

The latest trend in city dating: going online. Recently, some friends have talked to me about their online dating experiences and recommended that I create a profile on eHarmony or Match to help me meet my two date minimum this year.

Because I'm so awful at regular dating, I'm actually thinking about this. 

My past online dating experiences weren't great, but in hearing about the success from my friends, I'm considering giving it another shot.

So before I start looking into memberships, I took a stab at writing my own personal ad. Take a look below and let me know your thoughts.

Single lady in Chicago

Single, young professional in Chicago looking to meet a guy with a great sense of humor. I love pop culture, movies, television and sports, especially college football. I also like shopping but I can pay for it so I won't be stealing money out of your wallet.

Right now, I'm looking for a guy who can make me laugh and treat me like a lady. Similar interests are important and you must not have any of the following:
  • Lice

  • A tendency to lie a lot or cheat

  • Kleptomania

  • A physical attraction to any of my girlfriends

  • Lack of personal hygiene

  • Bad credit or a lot of debt

  • Dislike of strong women

  • Anger management issues

  • A problem with picking up the tab - I can take care of myself, but it's nice to have someone be the "guy" on the date.
Also, must not mind helping on household chores and going out to dinner and doing fun stuff around the city. I've lived here nearly four years, but I still love exploring and seeing new things. I don't mind sitting home some nights but I'm not a hermit.

I don't put out on the first date but a kiss is optional depending on how the date goes. Also, I don't have a problem with appropriate PDA but keep you tongue to yourself if we're out in public. That's for private time. Possibly boyfriends might have to submit to an STD screening test.

I'm not crazy, I have a good job and group of friends. I enjoy working out and living a healthy life but I don't sacrifice food that I want to eat or alcohol. I enjoy working out and lifting weights but I don't have a big neck. Plus, it is important to me that my dad like you because should he not and we break up, there is a 50/50 chance you'll disappear in the middle of the night. We're only violent when prompted.

Call me!

So I think that's a winning ad. Wouldn't you want to date me?

In all seriousness, maybe it wouldn't hurt to look into an online dating membership. Would make for good blog fodder right?

Anyone have big weekend plans? I'm off to Iowa tomorrow night for the Iowa/Wisconsin game, I'm already looking forward to Sunday's "key learnings" post!

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Conversations with grandma

I got my first flu shot yesterday and I feel like total crap. My injection arm is killing me and I feel as though I've been hit by a truck. Hmm why don't I normally get the flu shot?  Hmm, I can't remember right now, oh that's right, I don't like to feel like crap. Got it.

So I'm keeping this kind of short today, I hope you can forgive me. 

I've been meaning to blog for a bit about my grandma, god love her. She's always been kind of quirky with no internal filter on what comes out of her mouth, but as she has gotten older, she's a little more bold with what she says. I can always count on a rude comment coming out of her mouth toward me at Thanksgiving and a scowl of disapproval toward my city lifestyle. This of course has been capitalized upon since my baby brother got married this summer. Thanks to this, I'm totally in the clear of her worrying because she said - and I quote - "we're so glad we were able to stay alive to see one more good thing happen." Yes, I'm dying alone, thanks for the memo.

Because of grandma's somewhat loose lips, I have become a bad granddaughter and I don't call her and my grandpa as much as I should. I do love my grandma, but all of my calls to them start with me psyching myself up, saying "they don't know any better, they mean well."

Below is a snippet (taking some creative license) of a recent conversation with grandma about her favorite topic, my love life.

Scene: Me working in the kitchen (not cooking) and doing my obligatory bi-weekly touch base call

Grandma: Jessica how is your love life?

Me: *crickets chirping* Non-existent?

Grandma: Oh well you mention this boy all the time

Me: *sigh* He's just a friend grandma, guys and girls can be friends

Grandma: Oh well you just mention him a lot and I thought maybe it would turn into something more than that

Me: Nope, just friends

Grandma: Well you're too skinny, guys don't like girls who are too skinny

Me: I definitely wouldn't say I'm skinny, let's not talk about this anymore

Grandma: Well then, you're definitely not as heavy as you used to be

Me: Thanks

Grandma: Just remember that your job can't cook you dinner

Me: Yeah well it sure pays for things that reheat well. Okay I have to go, I'll call you guys again........soon

Sign me up for an express ticket to h*ll! Fingers crossed for a window seat in the dry heat section!

Hmm I should actually call to check in again this weekend, I wonder what the topic of conversation will be this time. *shudder*

Monday, October 13, 2008

Memories competing with air hockey

It's another one of my secret shames - I am a packrat, just like my grandpa. Both of us have a hard time parting with mementos and we tend to collect a lot of things that many people find to be "junk," but not to us.

I keep Playbills, concert programs, charms, photos (I have boxes of photos), stuffed animals, books and pieces of art. My dream is to one day have built-in bookshelves to store the seemingly endless books that I've collected, but since that won't be happening anytime soon, they sit in boxes.

For a while I stored this stuff in my parent's attic, which seemed to be the black hole of storage, until I came home for visits and my stepmom had painfully endless tasks for me to do up there. I think she was doing this so that I would eventually move my stuff out of the attic rather than consolidate herself the endless wardrobes of clothes that she never wears or the boxes of shoes that also lined the attic and took up the space. I'm sure that was an oversight.

So one day, dad and I boxed up all my crap and moved it to grandma's house, where she had an empty basement. Now grandma is calling and asking when I can move some of that stuff out so that she can have more space for the air hockey table for the grandkids. Seriously. My childhood mementos and memories were in jeopardy so my slacker cousins could have an air hockey table. Are you kidding me?

Grandma comments when I see her that I have a lot of useless stuff, but to me, it's not useless. It's nice to box up parts of your past, good and bad, and visit it every once in awhile. This stuff may be useless to her, but to me, it's remembering sitting on the benches at Summerfest for my first concert (Bon Jovi) and the summer I managed to read "The Great Gatsby" and "Gone With The Wind." Trust me, I was a total bookworm nerd.

I can part with things easily now, like magazines, newspapers and small pieces of paper I somehow hold on to, but in the end, I know what is valuable to me and I hold on to it, hoarding or not. And so far my stuff in her basement has been able to accommodate the air hockey addition to our family, that is until the Foosball table comes into play, then we'll have to talk.

Do you have something(s) that you collect or cannot part with?

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Weekend key learnings and cupcakes

Ah here we are again, another Sunday night. How bittersweet it is. But I have pictures to share! So before we get to that, by popular demand, let's recap things that I learned this weekend.

Key learnings:
  • It's not impolite to over compliment someone on their Lincoln Park mansion, but try not to look like you're casing the place
  • A cheese log is always a solid appetizer
  • Cleaning sucks, but your house/apartment always looks better when it's done
  • Cupcakes make any day better
  • Whenever relationships change, it's always a little sad
  • Telling people that you're knitting legwarmers always gets a good response
  • Being barefoot only feels good on the grass or carpeting
  • Don't say you're sorry unless you at least half mean it
  • No matter how many times you do it, waxing always hurts (especially on sensitive skin)
  • Always take time to "Saturday Night Fever" strut down the street
  • Unlined wool pants are itchy
  • Clothes you can only hand wash are a dealbreaker
  • The best part of opening gifts is watching the recipient's reaction
These are all good things to keep in mind. Especially the strutting down the street. Seriously, shake those hips like Shakira and be sure to give someone the "wink acknowledgement" on the street or point them out so they feel special. It makes someone's day.

Along with these wonderful learnings, two other exciting things happened this weekend - the marathon and cupcakes!

Friday, after my waxing appointment at Nordstrom Spa (where my tech calls me a waxing sissy - it's true), I wandered over to More cupcakes on Delaware for a post-pain treat. Chicago magazine gave it a good write up and bloggy friends have also said good things, so I went in. All I have to say The selection wasn't huge but the size of these cupcakes was insane. Here's a picture of the "try more" cupcake, which is chocolate with strawberry icing and chocolate shavings. I looked like a slob trying to eat this, but it was worth it. Divine. Little pricey but since Friday is "treat day," it's worth it :)

Then today was the annual Chicago marathon, which runs literally around my street on the North Side. So since I was trapped, I dragged my butt out there to watch and cheer...with my favorite blueberry muffin of course. I won't lie, it was hotter than h*ll out there but it was really cool to watch everyone run by and in return, clap with encouragement. I got to see some runners dressed in costume (Minnie Mouse and Elvis) and two guys were actually juggling while running. That is talent I'm not remotely capable of. I also went out to cheer on my co-worker Emily, who finished in just over five hours. Congrats Em, you did a great job.

Here are some pictures of the runners. Forgive the bad photo quality - I was shooting directly into the sun!

So tomorrow is Monday and another week begins, did anyone else do something fun/exciting this weekend?

Thursday, October 9, 2008

A single girl in the kitchen

** Warning – if you are a really good cook, 
the below post may horrify you, reader beware **

I’ve hinted before that I’m not a very good cook and I fear that I will shock many of you with how bad I actually am at it. I don't want to be a bad cook but food doesn’t have the same cache for me that it does for others. Food sustains me but it doesn’t feed me like other things do. Many of my friends are “foodies” and excellent cooks, which is why they are horrified at my lack of skill. There is even a rule in my apartment that no one can look in my fridge, thanks to a previous teasing that I received.

Because I'm hoping everyone will be nice, below is a picture of my fridge contents. It's actually pretty full right now, which surprises me.

So it should shock no one that my food habits mimic many of my lunch habits – I pretty much eat the same thing for dinner every week (depending on how much I will be home).

On a good week, if I’ll be home a lot after work, my dinners consist of the following:
  • Chicken breast
  • Yogurt
  • Hard boiled eggs
  • Treat (optional)
If I’m going to be gone for most of the week (for knitting, events, etc.) I will adjust this so that I’m not wasteful:
  • Pasta (sauce optional) or cereal
  • Yogurt
I do not know how to make pasta sauce from scratch, successfully make pancakes or really anything breakfast-related outside of scrambled eggs. I don’t cook with meat often too so don't ask me how to brown it and I don't know how to make pie crust. Basically, I get a big FAIL on just about everything. But, I can cut up a green pepper or cantaloupe in a snap!

So when people ask why I never cook and why I don’t learn, the answer is simple: I don’t like cooking a big meal for just me.

Being single, I don’t see the need to put in a lot of effort for something I will just shove in my mouth while reading blogs and/or working from home. Maybe if I wasn't single, I would put more effort into cooking, but for now, it's just me.

I’m so embarrassed to admit this, but before “Top Chef,” I never heard about layering flavors in food or exotic words like...ceviche. In fact, when I go out, if I recognize a “Top Chef” food, I automatically order it, because if it’s good for the show, it’s good enough for me! I even asked someone if Panko bread crumbs were readily available in the grocery store and the woman thought I was actually kidding. I wasn’t.

So how did I end up being so inept in the kitchen? I didn't really grow up cooking. My mom and stepmom are both great cooks and dinner was always provided for me, but they liked to use the meal prep time as their time alone, so my brothers and I never were given sous chef duties. And then came college and pizza and more prepared meals and then here I am...still two left feet in the kitchen.

One of the items on my list is cooking a gourmet meal for my friends, which I really want to do, but given another recent teasing incident about the difference between “medium” and “medium-rare” meat, I’m shrinking back into my non-cooking shell. But even though I don't care for all the work put into creating a meal, I always appreciate and recognize others who do. I'm always complimentary and willing to help do dishes as a thank you. That counts as something right?

And that is my story about how bad I am in the kitchen and why. I'm sure many of you are shaking your heads and I bow mine in shame. But surely I can't be the only girl who isn't the best in the I?

Okay maybe if I am...let's change the subject then...big weekend plans for anyone out there? Bueller?

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Little white lies

Sometimes I say things that I don't really mean. I wouldn't say that I'm a liar, but maybe just a little white liar/fibber.

I never intentionally say cruel things (contrary to popular belief), but sometimes I do lie to myself a little bit. I will verbally say things that I have honorable intentions of doing but then never actually do them.

I do this a lot because I believe in my scattered head that if I say these things out loud enough, I'll actually do it, but that never seems to happen.

For example, here are a list of lies I've said to myself recently and my inner monologue toward each:
  • Start going to the gym more (shut up no you're not. You're there four days a week, do you think you'll actually get off your a** and go? No I didn't think so, but we'll go walk outside)

  • Cut back on the amount of beer I drink (FAIL, whatever, we'll switch to wine then)

  • Call my grandparents more (Yes please let's call them more so grandma can tell us you're too fat or skinny and that you'll die alone. Super)

  • Be nicer to rude customer service people (I don't think Rage Girl will like this - wait she might be getting angry already)

  • Get up earlier (why not? I already can't sleep in so I may as well catch up on morning TV. At least on Saturday there is a 90210 marathon on SoapNet)

  • Lose 10 more pounds (Ah sure we can do this as soon as you lay off the candy. I know it calls to us)

  • Re-organize my closet and keep it organized (We'll try, but no guarantees)
So while I have good intentions to actually do them, according to my brain, some are going to be easier to achieve than others. I think my brain will win on this too.

Backtracking a little bit, on occasion, I will lie to my friends, but I do it because I love them and want to help them. For example, when friends are upset and they are looking for advice or comfort, I will say things that are genuine, but not always 100 percent true. I'm being supportive of them and telling them what they want to hear to feel better, rather than being honest and possibly causing a fight. 

Sadly, I've been in this situation a lot in the past and when I tried to be didn't end well and it damaged a lot of friendships. When you're really upset about something, you don't want someone judging you or making you feel worse, you just want someone to hold you and tell you it will all be okay. And that's...okay.

Before I move on, I do want to say that there are certain situations in which you should be a brutally honest friend, but sometimes, it's just not worth the fight. And if the tables were turned, I'd rather have my friends lie to me. I really don't think there is anything wrong with that either.

So maybe I am a liar, but sometimes the truth is a little tougher to take. And as long as I don't lose my grip on reality, sometimes lying to others and to yourself is the best option.

I fear asking, but am I the only one who says things like this that they don't 100 percent mean?

Reader note: Thank you so much everyone for your great comments on yesterday's lunchtime habits! I'm so glad to hear that there are other PB&J fans and that I'm not the only one who "brown bags" it every day. I cannot wait for treat day Friday too.

Monday, October 6, 2008

Lunch habits

I am cheap and my cheapness doesn't just include dinner and drinks, lunch has also been grouped under this frugal umbrella. I’m not one to make a big lunch at home or put forth a lot of effort in making a lunch for work because I’m usually too busy working to enjoy it when it comes time to shove food down my throat.

Which is why I bring the same lunch to work every day. It’s sad.

My daily lunch consists of the following (eaten in this order):

  • Peanut butter and jelly sandwich
  • Cheddar cheese stick
  • Baby carrots
  • Applesauce

That is it. Food is pretty readily available in my office so I will grab something small to snack on if I get hungry between courses, but I keep my lunch simple, primarily because it takes five minutes to make and pack in the morning.

I don’t get tired of this "plain Jane" lunch, but I always look forward to “treat day Friday,” when I venture away from my desk and leave five minutes earlier from home because I get to buy my lunch. I consider Friday my, “you survived the week now go get yourself something nice” day, where I join the other people in my office building in waiting for warm, slightly overpriced food for lunch. I am excited about Friday now already.

But even though it’s “treat day” on Fridays, my cheapness comes out in the fact that I refuse to pay more than $6 for my lunch. In my scattered mind, I feel that anything above $5-6 is too much for lunch because then that amount moves the meal closer to being more of a dinner-like occasion. For dinner, I prefer to pay $10-12 for entrees. Now I won’t give up something if it’s over that amount, but in general, that’s a range I feel comfortable with paying. As a single income household in the city, where everything is getting more expensive, I like to splurge, but need to be mindful about when I do it and how.

So I have my “regular” meals that I get on Friday that fall within my lunch cost range and I rotate between them on a weekly basis. I was horrified to find out last week that my favorite Au Bon Pain lunch is now a dollar more than last year, pushing me out of my comfortable lunch cost range, but I might make an exception. It’s getting cold now and I need my soup!

Am I the only one who brings a lunch all the time? A lot of people in my office buy lunch so I always feel weird “brown-bagging” it. Or has anyone started to bring a lunch more than they did before our economy went south? I'm more than curious to see what you guy say :)

Reader note: Thanks everyone for their feedback on my weekend "key learnings" list. I'm so glad you're enjoying it. By popular demand, it will now be a weekly feature! Yay!

Sunday, October 5, 2008

Shenanigans and more weekend key learnings

So you may be disappointed to find out that my weekend was actually pretty shenanigan-free. Trust me, I would love to tell you all about some wild bar or cab incident that happened, but because of good behavior and some luck, nothing overly remarkable went on.

Now that didn't stop me from learning more things this weekend from my tame adventures. For your reading enjoyment, I have listed more key learnings below. Believe it or not, there are still some good things to keep in mind.

And away we go!

More key learnings
  • Just because you still have your 90s torn jean jacket with NKOTB patches, that doesn't mean you should wear it out to the bars on Saturday night
  • Beer + sour cream and onion chips = Good. Beer + sour cream and onion chips + ultra-chocolate cake with chocolate gnosh frosting = serious tummy ache (not good)
  • Not everyone at the local election office has a full set of teeth
  • Some of the best Friday nights include: sweatpants, magazines, movies and napping on the couch with a down blanket
  • The older you get and the more set into a workweek routine you are, the less likely you are to actually "sleep in" on the weekends
  • Wearing underwear while out for a run (especially with short-short running attire) is important...and recommended
  • You do not have to tip homeless men/women if they shout insults at you. Example, if a homeless person says to me as I walk past, "you're a fat cow," I will not give them money. However, if one says, "I like your purse," or "nice legs," I will actually fish around for some change. Because they're right :)
  • You do not have to buy something just because it's on super sale, especially if you're not 100 percent sure you'll wear it
  • College band students are just as wild as non-band students. Case in point, the University of Wisconsin's marching band has been indefinitely suspended while the school looks into allegations of hazing, alcohol and sexual misconduct. I'm having an "American Pie" band-camp story flashback
  • Alcohol can make someone infinitely more amusing to talk to
  • Being told you're beautiful by a nice old man is still flattering, especially if you're sweaty and without make-up or contacts at the time
  • Fooling around with your guy or girl in public is fun, but not outside someone's apartment door at 2 a.m. Really, take it inside, where it's equally as fun
Reader Question: Do you guys like this quirky little list? I've been thinking about making it a regular feature but wanted to put the question out there to my blosse.

I mentioned this on Thursday, but last week I was invited to attend a "breakfast for dinner" event hosted by the 3-A-Day of Dairy group (disclaimer: 3-A-Day of Dairy is one of my company's clients). I love breakfast for dinner, case in point, I had cereal for dinner one night last week. 

Fortunately, they had a much nicer spread so it was a nice "breakfast buffet" for dinner. And seeing that I'm from Wisconsin, I love anything dairy, especially cheese *salivates*. 

My heaven = lots of cheese

I was also really excited to go because Erin from The State I Am In was one of the hosts and as a loyal reader of hers, I could not wait to meet her in person. Plus, the event was held at the Washburne Culinary Institute, where part of Top Chef Chicago was filmed last year, awesome!!

Erin and me

I would like to say that I'm a great chef and that I make a hearty breakfast every morning, but the reality is that as a single, young professional, my usual breakfast consists of a granola bar, which I eat at my desk. So I don't know if I'll ever be Top Chef material, but I did get some ideas for my weekend breakfast spread, which allows for more complex dishes than during the week. And I got to hang out with some more awesome Chicago bloggers, which I love doing too.

How was everyone else's weekend? Any shenanigans to report?

Thursday, October 2, 2008

My lots of love list

It's way past by bedtime (yes, it's only 10:30 p.m. - sad) so I'm shamelessly copying this idea from some great bloggers I know because at the end of a long week, as I get ready to kick-start the weekend, I want to take a step back and focus on things that I love. Some things on this list might be cheesy, but I'm having a sincere moment here.

Yes, there is a lot of love on this blog tonight.

So without further ado, here is my inaugural love list.

Smell of fresh laundry - leaves falling - breaking the spine on a new book - opening up new lip balm - watching a thunderstorm - going for walks - getting a good song on my iPod shuffle setting - smell of home cooked food - someone giving me a honest compliment - laughter - hugs  - someone brushing my hair - drinks with good friends - chocolate cake - watching movies - reading a good magazine - cashmere - wrapping a soft scarf around my neck - knitting - dancing to loud music - prancing around my apartment in high heels - playing dress up - kissing a baby's soft cheeks - quiet Friday nights - snow crunching beneath my feet - playing in puddles - taking pictures - a good steak - champagne - watching the Badgers - the sound of a perfectly hit golf ball - sound of a tennis ball hitting the sweet spot - fresh cut flowers - air conditioning on a hot, humid day - guys in a nice, tailored suit - smell of leather shoes - feel of newly dyed hair - ice cream - breeze blowing through the trees - kisses on the cheek - The Colbert Report - sweatpants - having a "lay down" - watching a movie, wrapped in a blanket - Dancing/pretending that I know how to - the "smell of fall" - jumping into a warm bed at night - curling up with a warm bowl of soup - fires in the fireplace - ironing - sound of rain - spending time with my good girlfriends

Oh yeah, I have one more to add on here too. Relaxing on a Friday night with a movie, People magazine and a Pepsi. That's my plan for tomorrow night. I cannot wait! Plus I have a friend's birthday party this weekend so a "night in" would be nice, considering there will be shenanigan's galore on Saturday.

Next week I'll also recap the bloggy event that I went to tonight that was hosted by the 3-A-Day of Dairy program. (To disclose, 3-A-Day is one of my company's clients). Not only was it a good time with cheese, but also I got to meet some awesome Chicago bloggers, like Erin and Laura!

Almost TGIF time! Does anyone else have fun plans this weekend? At some point this weekend I need to transition out my summery clothes to fall ones. It's bittersweet.