Wednesday, December 31, 2008

This is The End (of 2008)

On my way to work this morning, my CTA card just stopped working. I used it on the bus, and it was fine. Then I went to the train, and it simply didn't register. No "Retouch Card" error, no "Account Balance" error. Nothing. So, while my train roared overhead, I had to go buy a disposable card.

When I finally got on the train, it went to two stops before stalling on the tracks for 20 minutes. Something about signal clearance and whatnot.

But even though I was delayed and even though the last few days have been really, really hectic, I was still in a pretty good mood when i got into work this morning.

Then, a co-worker sent out this link. I think it was meant to be a rah-rah charge to gear up for the New Year. But instead, I kind of feel like jumping off a bridge now. Jeez.

Saturday, December 27, 2008

Happy Birthday Chris

A little shout out to my man, who turns 30 today.













Here's to another 30 years of happiness, drinking, dancing and giving booze to small children. Love you.

Monday, December 22, 2008

My pants are too tight...

... probably because I haven't been to the gym since we moved.

That is all.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Week of drink

Today, Chris and I are entering Day 3 of "The Week of Numerous Holiday Parties," also known as "The Week of Neglecting Our Dog While Testing the Limits of Our Livers." Basically, we have a holiday party almost every night this week, and other than a short reprieve next Monday and Tuesday, most of next week as well. The majority of these parties are quite booze-fueled. As a result, I need to restock my desk supply of ibuprofen.

Last night, poor Rosie went about 90 minutes longer than normal before getting to go outside. I was worried she wouldn't make it, but she was asleep when we got home, so I guess she was fine. We made up for the neglect by playing with her out in the snow for about an hour last night. Because of the aforementioned alcohol consumption, Chris and I didn't seem to notice the cold. Plus, Rosie LOVES snow, so there was much bounding, leaping and spinning on her part, which just warms our hearts.

Hmmm, I really need to get a video of Rosie in the snow. Stay tuned...

Thursday, December 11, 2008

8 days a week

The hours of my typical day:

10 = working
8 = sleeping
2 = commuting
1 = getting ready for work
1 = preparing, eating dinner
1 = cleaning

That's 23 hours.

I usually spend my 24th hour either watching TV, reading, petting Rosie or all three simultaneously. Instead, I should be doing one or more of the following:

- working out
- more cleaning
- organizing my house/life
- keeping in touch with people
- some sort of craft not related to work

Everyday, I say I'm gonna do one of those things, but instead, I spend my one free hour just chillin'. And then I feel guilty about it.

I think I need a 25th hour. Or maybe I should just sleep less.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

For the record

Bare Minerals makes me break out. I know a lot of people who swear by this makeup and say it's the greatest stuff ever. So I got the little starter kit a few months ago, and it made me zitty. I even tried changing out brushes, and not using that rev-er upper stuff they give you. But it's just not happening.

Sorry Bare Minerals. As Christina Crawford once said, "I...Am Not...One Of Your...FANS!"

Monday, December 08, 2008

Love thy neighbor

Since moving in, our neighbors on either side of us have been the definition of the types of neighbors you pray you get when you move into a new neighborhood.

For starters, they're normal. No crazy signs outside. No strange sounds or smells emitting from their homes. No singing, dancing or inflatable holiday decorations.

In addition to being normal, they're incredibly friendly and helpful. When we first bought the house, before we even moved in, we were there one weeknight pulling up staples from the carpeting and doing other work on the floors. And one of our new neighbors ran over in the rain to bring us a bottle of champagne along with two little paper cups (we had no dishes at the house yet) to welcome us to the 'hood.

Then, after we moved in, during some storms a few months ago that caused a lot of flooding in our area, another neighbor came by to check on us and set up a portable sump-pump and hose outside to keep standing water out of our backyard.

So, obviously, we totally hit the neighbor jackpot.

A week ago, to show a bit of our appreciation, we stopped by each neighbor's house to say hi and deliver some Christmas cookies on some cute little holiday dishes I found at Target. Then yesterday, one neighbor returned the dish, but topped with the most amazing chocolate-glazed marbled bunt cake ever. This was about an hour after Chris went outside to shovel the sidewalk, only to find one of the same neighbor's kids outside already doing it for us.

Dude. I can't even begin to describe the warm fuzzies I've got going on right now. I mean, the cake? It was seriously the first thing I thought about when I woke up this morning. Holy cow.

When we were looking for a house, I had my heart set on another neighborhood — one that's less established, but will probably take off in the next 10 years. But Chris really liked this house and this neighborhood, and even though the commute's a little longer and the back of the house isn't level, I agreed, somewhat reluctantly.

Since then, in the old 'hood I wanted to live in, three people have been shot within a block of a house we came very close to buying.

Um, I think this is the part where I admit I was wrong and the husband was right. So, thank you, honey, for convincing me to buy this house and move to the land of champagne, cake and free snow removal.

Sunday, November 30, 2008

Most Expensive Thanksgiving Ever

This year, like most years, Chris, Rosie and I went down to North Carolina for the week of Thanksgiving. This year, after a two-day stop in the western part of the state to visit my aunt and uncle, we drove to Charlotte on Tuesday to spend the rest of the week with Chris' parents, his sister and their German Shepherd, Barron.

After running around with Barron at the dog park, then returning to the house to chase the family cat around, Rosie — initially unbeknownst to us — got into Barron's food. Baron eats a mix of wet and dry food, which is much tastier than the plain dry mix we give Rosie. So, Rosie went to town, gobbling it up, then practically drank her weight in water.

These three factors combined — exercise, gulping down food and extreme water consumption — can lead to a condition in dogs called bloat. When a dog has bloat, the dog's stomach twists on its axis. Meanwhile, the stomach produces a ton of gas, which can't escape because of the twisted tummy (basically, the two normal means of gas escape — burping and farting — are blocked). As a result, the dog's stomach begins to expand, eventually compressing and cutting off circulation to the dog's lungs, spleen and other vital doggie innards. Ultimately, it can lead to death, often in just a few hours.

Dogs with large barrel chests, like Rottweilers, are prone to bloat, and luckily, Chris' mom had warned us about the condition years ago. So, when later that evening, Rosie repeatedly attempted to vomit without success, we were immediately concerned. Soon after, we noticed that her belly expanded larger than we'd ever seen. It seriously looked like she had swallowed a football sideways, or an entire basketball. At that point, we panicked. We immediately lifted Rosie into Chris' parents' SUV (Rosie had lost the ability to stand by this point) and Chris' mom drove us to the emergency vet hospital.

I can't even begin to describe how horrible that car ride was. Rosie's breathing slowed and she kept trying to put her head down. We were losing her. Chris and I kept holding her head up, forcing her stick with us. We were both sobbing while trying to keep her awake. There were times that the length between her breaths was so long, we thought she had already died.

We had some trouble finding the hospital, and at one point, drove up to an adjacent animal clinic, only to find it closed. Once again, we thought Rosie was gone. But eventually, we found the hospital, and the staff quickly wheeled her in on a doggie gurney.

After all this panic and running around, we had to wait for hours in the waiting room while the staff first inserted a tube down Rosie's throat to relive the pressure, then performed surgery on Rosie's stomach to twist it back into position. They also stapled her stomach to the inside of her abdominal wall to prevent it from twisting again.

In the end, she survived. She had to stay at the hospital overnight and most of the next day for observation, but she was able to come back to Chris' parents' house the following night, where I pretty much didn't let her out of my sights for one second. Chris and I even took turns sleeping on the floor next her that first night.

Amazingly, Rosie has since bounced back to almost normal. We were able to drive her back home yesterday, just four days after her surgery. We're supposed to keep her relatively calm for the next two weeks, and since her surgery, she's been a teensy bit slower and sleepier than normal. But by and large, she's recovering much better than I would if I had just been cut open and had my insides rearranged.

In fact, what seems to be bothering Rosie most now is a bit of razor burn. She looks pretty punk with her lower half all shaved and a giant scar along her belly. You can check it out in the video below. But be warned, there's some full-on doggie groin in this video, which, depending on your place of employment, may or may not be safe for work.


Rosie's surgery scar from Sarah Wunder on Vimeo.

Friday, November 21, 2008

Friends with Photoshop

A few months ago, my friend Jon was in town on a photo assignment. Because he's a photographer and kinda goofy, he decided to follow me in to work and photograph me paparazzi-style. It was amusing. But then today, he posted this little illustration on Facebook.



I should note, Jon has an unhealthy obsession with poop.

In other Facebook news, you should go check out this post from Anything Said. Dude. Hilarious, and sadly, so very true.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Channeling Janis Ian

A tiny article in today's Sun-Times pretty much confirmed what I've long believed about Generation Y:

"Today's teens are far more likely than their parents to believe they're great people, destined for maximum success, a study says.

Between half and two-thirds of Gen Y teens gave themselves top ratings, compared with less than half in their parents' generation."


And now if you'll allow me to put on my curmudgeon hat:

Hey kids, what's with all the narcissism and bloated egos? In my day, being a teenager was all about self-loathing, bad acne and Manic Panic. We were full of hatred and rage and sadness, and the only things that comforted us were flannel shirts, posters of Trent Reznor and hanging out at Denny's with every other suburban tortured soul.

You kids today are really missing out.

You see, you all think that because television is full of people who are famous for absolutely no reason, that you'll all be famous someday, too. But 10 years from now, you'll wake up and realize that assuming you'd get your own reality TV show probably wasn't the best career track.

When I was a teenager, we all assumed we'd never amount to anything. So when, 10 years later, some of us found ourselves with decent jobs and living in mostly rodent-free residences, we were pleasantly surprised.

Now if you'll excuse me, I need to go lock myself in my room and listen to Pretty Hate Machine on repeat while reading Sassy magazine.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Kitchen adventures

Last night, I managed to cut my finger while sifting flour. Yeah, I don't understand either.

In other kitchen news, we still don't own a microwave. But, I find that I don't really miss it. There are really only two times when I long for one: when I make popcorn, and when I want to reheat leftover tamales.

For the former, I've solved that by making it on the stove top. But it's kinda messy, so I'm thinking about getting a popper. My parents had one when I was growing up, and I remember it being a lot of fun. Plus, it's probably a lot healthier than the microwave option.

For the latter, microwaving tamales is nice because it sort of re-steams them. I could reheat them in the oven, but they dry out a bit. And I could steam them on the stove top, but that's a big pain, especially considering tamales and late-night drunkenness kind of go hand-in-hand. Pots of boiling water and intoxicated Sarah, however, do not go hand-in-hand. (Ahem, see the aforementioned sifting accident, which occurred while I was completely sober. Had I been drinking at the time, who knows? Maybe I would have lost a finger.)

Anyway, got any ideas for reheating tamales sans a microwave and hot water?

Friday, November 14, 2008

Ad rage

There are a few companies whose products I refuse to ever purchase because I hate their commercials so much.

Recently, it's the "Saved by Zero" Toyota commercials. And today, I learned that I'm not alone in my utter hatred of these commercials. According to the Tribune, Toyota says that dealer traffic has increased since these commercials started running. So, I'd like to declare right now that I refuse to buy a Toyota or visit one of their dealerships until I can't remember the tune of that damn song. Nevermind that I'm not all in the market for a new car, but still. I used to be in love with the Toyota Matrix. Now? The love affair is over.

Another irritating commercial maker is Luna. There's the one where the woman talks to her carpet about how much she loves it. Then there's the one where a couple sings and plays guitar to their hard wood floors. Barf.

But the Luna commercial that bothers me the most is the one where they show pictures of all the flood damage that hit the Midwest. That's followed by an announcement that Luna is extending its special financing deals due to all the people who were devastated by the recent flooding. This is followed by a picture of a happy child playing in puddles. And all of this is followed by me yelling obscenities at the TV.

First of all, Luna — along with every other carpet and flooring store — ALWAYS offers special financing. It's like saying, "Did you know that Guitar Center is having a huge sale this weekend?" You can't convince me that this special financing deal is any different than the one you offer for President's Day, or Memorial Day, or Casmir Pulaski Day. So the idea that Luna would attempt to use a legitimately devastating event — hundreds of households having thousands of dollars in damage, as well as losing their belongings, and in some cases, their lives — to not only sell more carpeting, but also try to make themselves look benevolent, is disgusting. People died due to regional flooding this summer, and Luna is trying to capitalize on that. Sick.

Once again, I can safely say that I will never purchase anything from Luna. However, in this case, I'm actually in the market for some carpeting for our stairs. So Luna, you lost a potential customer because your commercials are stupid and annoying and pandering and insulting. You stink.

Why can't all commercials be like Dunkin' Donuts commercials? I heart TMBG.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Oh, the weather outside is....

...not too shabby, really.

Summer in Chicago is, always has been, and always will be my favorite season. But today, it's about 45 degrees out and slightly sleety, and I find it all quite refreshing.

I will no longer feel this affinity when it's cold and sleeting in April. And May. And possibly even June.

But today, it's a good thing. Rosie just might get an extra-long walk tonight.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Clarification

So, regarding my previous post, I suppose it may have across the wrong way regarding the economy. I just keep wondering how much of what's going on right now is the result of the media and fear.

For example, it seems like every day, there's a story in the paper or on the news about how people are penny pinching and methods they're using to save money. But inevitably, the "real people" they find are either people shopping along Michigan Avenue or college students. Um, I've yet to meet a college student who doesn't spring at the first hint of free food, or who hasn't, at least once, gone through the couch cushions to find cash (only to blow it on beer, of course). That's why you go to college - to learn about how to live on very little.

In addition, I always see these articles about how people can reduce their expenses, and every single one says to eliminate $4 cups of coffee, which will ultimately save you about $1,000 a year. Has anyone reading this EVER spent $4 on a cup of coffee? I rarely buy pre-made coffee anyway, so I'm totally out of touch with how much a cup of coffee is, but I seem to remember that they're about $1.50, at most.

Some of the other suggestions always amaze me, too, like to repair winter coats rather than buy new winter coats every year. Who buys a new winter coat every year??? It's like the people creating these news articles assume that pre-recession, you were a millionaire, and now you're barely able to scrimp buy. Hmmm, looks like it might be time to trade in that Hummer for a Mercedes.

I know that I'm very naive, and I know that everything could come crashing down on me so quickly. But I feel like I never really graduated from that poor-college-student mentality. I still remember what it was like to make minimum wage and not have health insurance. It sucks. But maybe it goes farther back than that. I remember when I was a kid, my dad would have me doing math in the aisle, trying to figure out if buying a 2-liter of soda or cans was more economical. (2-liters were ALWAYS more economical, even though I always preferred the cans). It's not like we were a super-cash-strapped family. it's just the way we were. And today, I still stand in the aisle trying to figure out if the double rolls of toilet paper are actually bigger than the smaller ones, and then, which package truly has the cheapest cost-per-ply.

Anyway, all of this is what I was referring to in my poorly worded previous post (which I've since deleted due to some confusion). It wasn't me saying, "I'm so lucky," but rather, "I have never known this $4 coffee luxury you speak of. Is it topped with flecks of gold?"

Thursday, November 06, 2008

This one's for the ladies

I apologize for the nature of this post, but it's one of those things I can't stop thinking about, particularly one week every month.

You know where I'm going with this, so I'll back up. In our new neighborhood, we are lucky enough to be within walking distance of a Jewel. But the problem is, it's just a Jewel, not a Jewel-Osco. (Osco, being the pharmacy/drug store arm of Jewel.) So, in a half-assed attempt to make up for its Osco deficiency, it devoted about a quarter aisle to all the things you'd find in a drug store — toothpaste, shampoo and foot cream, all crammed onto four shelves. As you can imagine, this forced the Jewel to cut down on the number of brands it offers, and herein lies the problem: This crappy, yet conveniently located grocery store, does not carry my brand of tampons.

I discovered this on a recent shopping trip, which resulted in me agonizing in the aisle for about 20 minutes trying to decide if I should try out a new brand, or buy all our groceries, go home, unload 'em, and then go out to Walgreen's just to get MY brand of tampons. Although I seriously consider the latter, and ultimately went the new-brand route.

Today, I am not a happy camper. There's nothing extremely wrong with the new brand, it's just not what I'm used to. The packaging isn't quite the same, the applicator is slightly different and the shape is all wrong. It's all very upsetting.

It reminds me of this Ad Report Card article I read a while ago about how advertisers try to hook women on their brand at a young age because in general, women stick with one brand for life. Although I've often thought that advertisers must know nothing about me and all the women I know — what with all the horrible commercials I see painting women as vapid, jewelry-obsessed, catty, 92-pound, 19-year-olds — apparently, they got one thing right: I'm a tampon-brand lifer.

Monday, November 03, 2008

Sarah Stone Wunder Bread

happy halloween, y'all.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Saturday's Mishap

So, we were in a little car accident Saturday. It wasn't serious, just scary.

Basically, we were driving down 90/94, merging from the express lane to the main road. We were stuck behind this old, beat-up looking car, and as we were driving along, Chris says to me, "That guy's tire looks like it's about to fall off."

And just then, his front hood flies off. (The tire, on the other hand, stayed in tact). The hood flew over his car and came right at us. Chris swerved toward the shoulder, but we still hit the hood and then drove over it. It left a nice gash in the bumper, and the status of the underbody of our car is TBD.

So, we pulled over to the ramp while the other driver went to retrieve his stray hood. It was held on by chicken wire. So, obviously, the dude had no insurance. Still, he stuck around and talked to the cops, gave his information, was very, very apologetic to us, etc. So, at least he was a bit more courteous than the other random vehicular aggressor.

How does this stuff happen to us? We literally drive once a week, and that's it. Yet, in less than a year, we've managed to get in a three-car accident — while parked, and had a car hood flung at us. WTF?

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

New G n' R


Chinese Democracy - Guns N Roses


It's no Welcome to the Jungle, or Sweet Child, or Mr. Brownstone, or Patience, or even Don't Cry. In fact, it's pretty boring.

But, it's the first Guns N' Roses release in 17 years, so I'll take what I can get.

Oh Axl, where do it all go wrong? Oh right, the drugs.

Monday, October 20, 2008

In case you were wondering...

... it's possible to make microwave popcorn on the stovetop. So, the next time you and your sister decide to rent a movie on OnDemand, and then run to the Jewel to buy a few boxes of microwave popcorn, come home, open the package, and then remember, YOU DON'T OWN A MICROWAVE**, don't fear. You can pop it in a large pot with a little oil.

Although if you decide to go this route, I'd recommend just buying popping kernels in a jar because opening an unpopped bag of microwave popcorn might just make you never want to eat it again. The kernels are all bound together by the gelatinous goo of orange-colored butter and salt. Blech.

**Our last apartment came with a microwave, and we haven't gotten around to buying a new one since moving.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Greatest Chili Ever

Yesterday, Chris and I made the best veggie chili ever. Except, by "Chris and I," I mean, Chris did all the work while I watched, waved around an immersion blender, and ate handfuls of Life cereal in the background.

Anyway, here's the recipe, in Chris' words:

Sautee one white onion and two gloves of garlic and hearty helpings of chili seasoning, cayenne, and emeril mix in a little oil until the onion and garlic soften and the seasoning really smells. Put onion, garlic, and scrape seasoning into crockpot. Add very little water (a tsp) to pan to get up rest of seasoning left in pan and add to crock pot. Add five small cans of drained stewed tomatoes with the mexican spices already in them. Add a big can of drained and washed kidney beans, two big cans of drained and washed chickpeas, and a big ass can of drained and washed black beans. Mix up. Add more chili seasoning, emeril mix, and cayenne to top and put lid on and leave on low for 8 or 9 hours.

Ooh, ooh! Here's the part where I come in:

Next, remove about 3-4 cups of the chili and puree with an immersion blender (which Chris says I use just because I like using the term "immersion blender." I'm not exactly disagreeing with that statement.) Then, put the pureed chili back in the crock pot and stir. Put some in a bowl, melt some cheese on top, and add hot sauce to your likin'. Eat. Repeat.

Thursday, October 09, 2008

Good night

So, we moved a week ago. I can't say it went off without a hitch, nor can I say we're all settled in now. Rather, I have lots of interesting stories from the past week, like the time the movers never showed up, or the time we found a mouse in the house, or the many times we experienced a leaky toilet. But I'm much too tired to write about those at the moment.

Earlier today, my co-worker said, "Hey, how's it going?" to which I replied, "You're welcome."

I am tired.

Friday, September 26, 2008

Everything's coming up hummus

I don't think I've ever been so excited about a grocery store before. A Jewel just opened about a block from my office, and I went there for lunch today. Holy. Crap. It's like the happiest place on Earth.

For starters, they have a salad bar. With all kinds of delicious ingredients. Then, there's the olive/hummus bar. Not kidding, there were like 8 different kinds of hummus available.

THEN, they have the deli/home-style goodness section, featuring things like lasagna, spinach pasta, green bean casserole and au gratin potatoes. I wanted to eat EVERYTHING. And then, they have tables and chairs outside. And it's all right across the street from a new park that opened a few weeks ago. Like, a great big park with a playground and dog run and tons of soft, green grass. All in the middle of the city. Heaven.

Anyway, other exciting things going on right now include moving into our house. (Like how this got second billing to the grocery store?) Currently, there are some painters painting, and some floors guys doing whatever floors guys do, all working to make the fun house livable and cat-pee-smell free.

We're moving in on Tuesday. In the meantime, I still have tons of packing to do. Apparently, having a whole month to pack and move just meant that I could procrastinate that much longer. Although I do have some good excuses.

For starters, Chris and I have been at the fun house almost every night for the past month trying to clean and rip out old flooring and pour every concoction available on the floors trying to get rid of the cat-pee smell. Seriously, we tried everything. We finally did get rid of the smell (I think) but it required ripping out the hardwoods in the dining room. They were pretty bad and rotted from the cat nastiness. Interestingly, under those hardwoods we found..... more hardwoods. The house was built in the 1890s, and I assumed that the hardwoods we found under the carpeting were the originals. But now that I've seen this new, super old layer of hardwoods, I can say that I'm pretty sure we finally found the original originals. In fact, my dad found one of those old school nails that's more square than round. So, yeah, that's some old wood.

In other hardwood news, we also found some underneath this weird fake-wood linoleum on the second floor. I cannot fathom what the previous owners were thinking, like, "Hmmm... you know what would look great on top of these hardwood floors? Fake wood-grained linoleum. And then, let's throw some green carpeting on top and let our cats pee all over it! Oooh, ooh! I have an even better idea! Let's turn some birds loose upstairs and let them poop all over the walls!! Awesome!"

But I digress. In addition to de-pooping and de-peeing the fun house, I also went to Arizona for a few days for work. It was fabulous. The weather was super hot, (which I love), the sky was blue, the resort was amazing, and all my food and drinks were paid for. I most definitely took advantage of the latter.

Now that I've been away for a few days, I'm itching for a real vacation. Chris and I are taking a few days off next week to move, but that's no vaca. I realize I shouldn't complain, considering we went to Aruba this year, and we're probably going to North Carolina in November. But what I really want is a vacation where we don't have to do anything. I don't want to visit anyone. I don't want to go to a wedding (we've been to three this year). I don't want to go sightseeing. I just want to relax for a few days with my husband, sit by the pool, go to the spa and eat my weight in fancy dinners.

I managed to talk Chris into this idea. (by "talk into," I mean it went down like this. Me: Hey we should go on vacation. Him: OK!). So, such a trip might happen in the next month. We're considering Nashville, which isn't a likely spot, but it's close, relatively cheap, has a great music scene and features slightly warmer weather. So, if you have any suggestions for our trip, lemme have 'em!

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Friday, September 12, 2008

Little treasures

In the Pandora's box known as our new house, we keep finding little hidden surprises. Some great. Some less-than-stellar.

For example, last night we found hardwoods under our kitchen floor. Finding these hardwoods involved a little elbow grease. First, we pulled up some linoleum. Under that, we found some plywood. We pulled some of that up to find another layer of linoleum. So we pulled that stuff off and found a layer of particle board. Under that, we found yet another layer of linoleum. And finally, under all that crap, we found hardwoods. (For those of you mathematically challenged, that's 3 layers of linoleum, 1 layer of plywood, and 1 layer of particle board). The people who previously owned this place either really hated hardwood, or were incredibly lazy. Or maybe they knew something we'll find out soon, like that half the floor's missing. Or there's bunch of water damage. Or a dead body.

On the plus side, when we finally remove those 5 layers of flooring, we'll have some nicely preserved hardwoods, and our floor-to-ceiling height will grow by at least an inch.

On the less-than-stellar side, up the bird poop room, Chris pulled out a giant A/C unit that was glued into the window sill. And between the A/C and the sill, he found a bird's nest. Sooooo, I'm starting to think the crazy lady who lived there before us didn't actually own a bird, but rather tried to domesticate some wild ones. Lovely.

So, did I mention the hardwoods? We have hardwoods.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

The Funhouse

So, it finally happened. We finally got through all the negotiations, legal madness, mortgage crapola, and last Friday, we bought a brand new, fancy house.

Except by "brand new" I mean, it was built in the 1890s, and by "fancy" I mean, if you were homeless and lost your sense of smell, you might think it was pretty nice.

So yeah, we bought a fixer-upper, formerly owned by a not-quite-right older lady with lots of cats, who peed in lots of places other than their litter boxes. (The cats, I mean. Not the old lady... well, I'm not sure about that actually). In addition to the extreme cat-pee odor, the house also features an addition on the back that's slowly sinking, which has led to a wonky staircase that would fit in quite well in a funhouse. Or perhaps Willy Wonka's factory. Or maybe an Escher painting. Or quite possibly a Dumpster.

But I don't care. Because it's mine. That beautiful two-car garage? I own you. That rose bush? I own you, too. Cat-urine-soaked hardwoods? All MINE!

And in case you missed it, we have stairs. Not like, "I live on a third-floor walk-up" stairs, but rather "Oh, do you need to use the computer? That's in our office, UPSTAIRS." Or "Someone's using the bathroom down here, so you can use the other one UPSTAIRS."

Which brings me to the next bit of excitement: We have TWO bathrooms. Well, actually, we sort of have three, but the third one is of the super-creepy variety in the basement and only features 3 walls. So, yeah, we don't plan on using that one too much.

Other fabulous features include three bedrooms, a backyard and awesome neighbors, who even brought us champagne in the pouring rain Monday night while we worked on the floors.

We don't have to be out of our current apartment until the end of the month, so we're not moving until then. For the next few weeks, it's gonna be all remodeling, all the time. In preparation, I've watched nothing but HGTV and Flip This House for the past two months. (By the way, New Haven, CT team—so freaking hot. San Antonio guy—total freaking douchebag).

I plan on blogging about the process along the way. In fact, if you'd like a tour of the new place, check out the video below. Just don't get too close to the screen, because you might be able to smell the cat pee. Seriously.


Funhouse from Sarah Wunder on Vimeo.

Friday, September 05, 2008

Remember when we lived in America, not China?

Journalists were arrested at the RNC. This is both sad and extremely frightening.



See the full story here.

Thursday, September 04, 2008

Palinguage

I like this post, so I stole it (with proper citation - a word that probably isn't known in Palinguage.)

By John Ridley

Up in the Twin Cities area folks are speaking a new language. Or, should I say Palinguage. It sounds sorta familiar because it's Latin based. But different from the plain English we're used to speaking, in Palinguage recognizable words take on new meanings. Won't you take a moment to learn some Palinguage so you can talk like a hypocritical conservative?

REPEAT THE FOLLOWING:

If you're a minority and you're selected for a job over more qualified candidates you're a "token hire." If you're a conservative and you're selected for a job over more qualified candidates you're a "game changer."

If you live in an Urban area and you get a girl pregnant you're a "baby daddy." If you're the same in Alaska you're a "teen father." (Actually, according to your own MySpace page you're an F'n redneck that don't want any kids, but that's too long a phrase for the evil liberal media to take out of context and flog morning noon and night).

Black teen pregnancies? A "crisis" in black America. White teen pregnancies? A "blessed event."

If you grow up in Hawaii you're "exotic." Grow up in Alaska eating mooseburgers, you're the quintessential "American story."

Similarly, if you name you kid Barack you're "unpatriotic." Name your kid Track, you're "colorful."

If you're a Democrat and you make a VP pick without fully vetting the individual you're "reckless." A Republican who doesn't fully vet is a "maverick."

If you say that for the "first time in my adult lifetime I'm really proud of my country" it makes you "unfit" to be First Lady. If you are a registered member of a fringe political group that advocates secession that makes you "First Dude."

A DUI from twenty years ago is "old news." A speech given without proper citation from twenty years ago is "relevant information."

And, finally, if you're a man and you decide to run for office despite your wife's recurrence of cancer you're a "questionable spouse." If you're a woman and you decide to run for office despite having five kids including a newborn... Well, we don't know what that is 'cause THAT'S NOT A FAIR QUESTION TO ASK.

Wednesday, September 03, 2008

Linktastic

I've never seen an episode of 90210. Or Party of Five. Or Melrose Place. Or Felicity. Or that one show with Claire Danes I can't remember the name of. I'm not really sure what I was doing during the '90s, but apparently I wasn't watching TV.

If I had been, I would probably find this post from "Anything Said" incredibly hilarious. In fact, it's pretty funny even though I never saw 90210, so for those of you that did, go here.

Then, you should go to New York, steal this puppy, and give it to me.

Then, do me a favor and buy me this refrigerator, this stove, and this dishwasher. And while you're at it, buy me central air and a new furnace, too.

Thanks.

Tuesday, September 02, 2008

A three-game losing streak

That's what I get for getting all cocky about baseball.

Friday, August 29, 2008

Things making me laugh today

  • Seattle has already been eliminated from the playoffs. It's August.
  • The E# (Elimination Number -- the combined number of wins by the first place team and losses by the trailing team that would eliminate them from the playoffs) for a few teams: Pittsburgh: 3; Cincinnati: 3; Washington: 4; Kansas City: 10.
  • The Cardinals are 10 games back.
  • The Yankees are 10.5 games back.
  • This post.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

This is getting ridiculous

For the past two nights, I've had a dream about drinking pop. On Tuesday night, I dreamt I was close to exhaustion, and someone gave me a bottle of soda to revive me. I drank it, and then realized I wasn't supposed to.

Last night, I dreamt that some people at work were going on a Slurpee run to 7/11 (this is a common occurance), and I asked them to bring one back for me, expecting to get the cherry variety. Instead, they brought me a cola slurpee, and I had to decide whether or not to drink it. (I did.)

What the hell? When I gave up meat for Lent, I never once dreamt about wolfing down a cheeseburger. During my alcohol-free days, I never had dreams about boozin'.

Is this normal? Have any of you ever given something up, and then dreamt about it incessessantly?

Back in the day, Mountain Dew used to be part of my identity. Like, Stoner and Mountain Dew were often mentioned in the same sentence. I finally gave that up, but replaced it with other forms of carbonated caffeine.

Perhaps this pop addiction is more deep-rooted in my psyche than I originally thought.

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Soda-Free, week one (or maybe that should read "weak one")

So, the soda-free week has been a bit challenging so far. Actually, it's harder than I expected. I really, really want a soda. Right now. I think weekends may be the most difficult.

On week days, it's just the afternoons that are killing me. Especially when I have something salty for lunch. Water just isn't cutting it.

At home, I've been drinking juice diluted with water. It's pretty good, actually. Although, I find that what I miss most about soda is the bubbles. I've thought about buying carbonated water, but I feel like that's not solving the problem. You see, part of why I wanted to quit soda in the first place is because of the pop effect on my recycling bin. As in, it's constantly overflowing with cans. Even though I recycle, I'm still creating a lot of waste. Which is also the reason I don't buy bottled water. I need to just be OK with tap water, or in the case of the office, H20 from the water cooler. So, switching to carbonated water really doesn't solve that problem.

Another problem: booze. I am a huge, huge 7&7 fan. Pretty hard to keep drinking those when one of those 7s is off limits. I realize that eventually, I'm going to quit this quitting. But I just need to go soda-free long enough that I'm no longer addicted. Not sure how long that'll take. Long enough that I don't think about a cold can of bubbly a few times a day.

Considering how hard this is, I'm SO glad I never started smoking.

Monday, August 18, 2008

Pop off

This morning as I was getting ready, I was gulping down the last few sips of Diet Pepsi, only to have some miss my mouth, dribble down my chin and onto the front of my shirt. Sadly, this is a common occurrence (damn you, wide-mouth cans!)

The incident got me thinking about my love affair with carbonated beverages. I have been a pop junkie for about 15 years. It all started with Mountain Dew, an addiction that lasted from age 14 to 23. After graduating college, those calories started to catch up with me, so I switched to Diet Pepsi and Diet Sierra Mist (yes, I am loyal to the Pepsico brand), addictions that lasted from age 23 until this year.

Over the past year I've been slowly making the transition from pop to coffee. I just got tired of attending work meetings and feeling like a 12 year old with my can of soda while every else sipped coffee. Basically, pop = teenager. Coffee = fancy-pants grown up. Now, I refuse to ever be a coffee-house-frequenting, wanna-be intellectual (which, by the way, = college freshman), but I am happy to take one more step toward adult-hood. The big 3-0 is on the horizon, so it's about freaking time.

The only problem with this transition, though, is that coffee didn't actually replace pop. Instead, it sort of became a soda supplement. I still consume about 1-3 cans of pop a day. Mostly, in the form of diet, caffeine-free beverages, but still. Over the past 15 years, I've probably put about 10 Pepsico executives' kids through college.

So, I'm quitting. Tomorrow. We ran out of pop today, and I'm just not going to buy anymore. Twelve packs of soda have gotten quite expensive lately — about $4.50 each. I go through two a week. That's about $470 a year. Not a lot, but no small change either.

Even though I'm not giving up caffeine (something I've considered many times), I have a feeling I'm going to go through some withdrawal symptoms anyway. But if I can make it a month pop-free, I think I have officially kicked the habit. I'll be sure to report on my progress here regularly. And just for good measure, I'm going to keep track of my weight throughout the process. Caffeine is an appetite suppressant, but according to some studies, artificial sweeteners can make you eat more. So maybe I'll lose weight. Or maybe I'll gain.

Regardless, I'll burp a lot less.

Monday, August 11, 2008

Me winks

It's official: I function better on less sleep. For the past few years, I've been getting 8+ hours a night, and I'm groggy most mornings and my brain doesn't really start to work until after lunch.

But in the past few weeks, for a few nights here and there, I've only gotten 6 hours of sleep. And in the morning, it's so much easier to wake up and I have a ton of energy when I get to work.

So there. Less sleep is good. Also, I think this means I'm officially old.

Saturday, August 09, 2008

More Elvis

A Big Hunk o' Love

Gotta get me a peanut-butter 'nana sandwich.

Thank you. Thank you very much.

Friday, August 08, 2008

Sweaty Elvis

video

Right before I passed out on a toilet.

Monday, August 04, 2008

Must love dogs

I pretty much wrote this post in my head on Saturday afternoon. It was going to be a post about how crazy spontaneous and easily persuaded we are, and how just like that, we adopted a new dog.

Except just like that, we didn't.

Chris and I were in St. Louis for his cousin's wedding this weekend. On Saturday afternoon, on our way from breakfast to a post-wedding picnic (the wedding was on Friday night), Chris' dad had to stop to pick up some new reading glasses, so the rest of us went into the Petco next door rather than bake in the 100-degree heat. We thought we'd get Rosie a souvenir from St. Louis. That souvenir turned out to be a 3-year-old Great Pyrenees. He had been abandoned in a campground, and he was adorable and docile and affectionate and slobbery and ENORMOUS. We fell in love immediately. We talked to his foster mom and got some information on the adoption process and said we'd think about it for a few hours.

Then, we went to the picnic for about two hours and talked about it and decided that yes, we MUST adopt this dog. It was fate. So, we went back to Petco approximately 3 hours after our first visit, and he was gone. Already adopted out to another family that so, totally will not love him as much as we would of. Jerks.

So now, we're seriously thinking about getting a second dog. Rosie could use a playmate. In fact, every time we dogsit, Rosie gets extremely depressed after the other dog goes home. She needs a friend. A really big, slobbery, fluffy friend. The hunt is on.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Her real name is Bridgette

Well, it looks like my home computer has crossed from "being on the fritz" to "blue screen of death." So, until I get things back up and running, enjoy this little ditty.

Word.

Monday, July 21, 2008

I invented Post-Its.



my 10-year high school reunion is in two weeks. insane.

UPDATE: You know what's even more insane? I can't remember the names of half the people in that photo.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Two Timing

Dear Blog,

There's really no easy way to do this, so I'm just going to come out and say it:

I've been seeing someone else.

We met at work. So far, I've only strayed once, but I can't promise it won't happen again. Wouldn't you rather I was honest?

You can check out the competition here. But don't worry. You'll always be my first. And I have no plans to end our relationship. Besides, I have to share the other blog with all my co-workers.

If you want to start seeing other bloggers, I understand.

Love,
ReporterStone

Wednesday, July 09, 2008

Homeless

Yeah, so the deal that I totally got my hopes up for has fallen through. I really don't understand the whole situation, but I guess the bank was cool with our offer, but now the seller isn't cooperating because she's bat-shit crazy, and the bank doesn't fully own the property until the entire foreclosure process is complete, which could take months, and ... blah, blah, blah ... auction ... blah, blah. blah ... deficiency judgment .. blah, blah, blah .. some other big words I don't understand.

Translation: It ain't happening.

I'm pretty much done with this whole thing. Right now, I just want to keep renting and forget about buying a house for a year or two or forever. I can't handle getting my hopes up again, only to have everything fall through because the seller is super shady. And judging by the few other people I know in this situation right now, things aren't going to get any better. One of my co-workers successfully sold her condo, which she thought would be the hard part. Except now, she and her hubby are sleeping on their friend's couch because they can't find a place to buy. They've been under contract three times, only to have the deal fall through due to stuff the inspection or attorney review turned up.

Basically, I've come to this conclusion. If you're selling your home right now and I can afford it, you are either a) in foreclosure, b) live in crappy/CTA-less neighborhood, c) haven't fix a thing since the Eisenhower administration, so as a result your property is advertised as "perfect for a tear-down or total gut rehab," or d) all of the above.

And in the end, I want nothing to do with any of you. You can keep your crappy home or the bank can take it or you can slap on some granite countertops and attempt to sell it for a gazillion dollars. I really don't care, 'cause I'm not buying it.

Tuesday, July 01, 2008

The Housing Situation

Remember how I said that we were buying our house and not moving? Right after I posted that, Chris was all, “it’s too early to post that,” and “stuff could still fall through,” and “you spilled diet 7-Up on your face.”

I hate when he’s right.

So, we got through the whole offer-counter-offer-counter-counter-offer thing, mortgage pre-approval thing, and then we came to the inspection thing. Turns out, the house is in great shape, expect that everything needs to be replaced. The roof, all the plumbing, all the electrical. So, although we already live a pit of debt, thanks to five college degrees between the two of us, from which we shall never surface, the idea of adding not just a mortgage, but also an additional 50 grand or so repairing the entire mortgaged house sounded like a great idea, we walked away.

Now we’re hunting again. We were, and possibly still are, close to going under contract on another place. I purposely haven’t mentioned it here for fear of jinxing our housing plans again. But despite my lack of posting, shit’s still messed up. The current place we’re interested in is in foreclosure, which means the bank, its advisors, the CEO, the board, the president, your mom and Condoleezza Rice all have to approve the offer before we can move forward. Basically, they told us that we might know if they accept our offer sometime this month. Maybe.

Normally, I am a very patient person, but when it comes to the place I will live in and pay hundreds of thousands of dollars for over the next 30 years, I get a little antsy for a response. Plus, we don’t know if we should keep looking or wait for this place. This is all very frustrating.

On the plus side, on Sunday Chris and I watched the Euro 2008 finals at an awesome German bar where the yummy food and weiss beer was plentiful. Germany lost (bummer), but at least the grub was good.

Saturday, June 21, 2008

There's a perfectly reasonable explanation for this



So, I've been away for a while. Partially, it was because, as stated in my previous post, my home computer was on the fritz. I finally fixed that last week. However, another reason I've been away is because I've been spending every free moment working on a little project for work. I don't know if I can even begin to explain it, but I'll try.

So, the company I work for is a custom publishing company, which primarily extends into the marketing side of the companies we deal with. So, say the marketing department of Big Giant Bank decides it wants to better connect with its customers in order to increase loyalty, open new accounts, set up more mortgages, etc. We work with Big Giant Bank to develop publications, Web sites, newsletters, microsites, webcasts, etc. to help the bank engage and connect with its customers.


Anyway, because so much of what we do is helping companies CONNECT with their customers, clients, franchisees, partners, etc., we've changed our slogan to "How Do You Connect?" Timed with this new slogan, my company launched a competition for our employees to attempt to answer this question through a video.

My friend/co-worker and I decided that the best way to answer this question involved putting on wigs and running around the city shooting each other, our friends, tourists, and other complete strangers with Nerf guns. THEN, because we are so crafty, we developed a Web site and gave people the option to choose alternate endings for the video, come up with some of their own, play silly games online, etc. You see, we're CONNECTING.

Anyway, if you want to see all this madness, go here. The site isn't totally complete, but it has the video, an alternate ending, and some other random stuff on there. I'll be updating it all week, and then beyond, assuming people leave some comments and suggestions. People like you. And my co-workers. And my boss, who will get to witness his employees running around Chicago in crazy costumes in the name of his company.

Seriously, do I have a great job, or what?

Friday, May 30, 2008

Technical Difficulties

Sorry about the lack o' posts. My home computer is on the fritz, and I try not to do too much blogging from work. Although, obviously, that's exactly what I'm doing right now.

Gotta run — I hear there's leftover donuts in the break room. Ah, the office life.

Friday, May 16, 2008

Guess I'm Gonna Give Up

I'm proud to say in three days this week, I matched my March mileage. However, in the process, I sort of forgot that my feet aren't cut out for running three days in a row.

After my run on Wednesday, I took off my shoes to find this (pic provided on a jump in case you have a problem with blood. Or feet. Or both). Really, finding a little blood on my socks is pretty normal. But then I took my socks and found THIS. Eeew.

So, in order to let that mangled piece of meat formally known as my foot get back to its daily, run-of-the-mill mangledness, I've decided to take a few days off running. It sucks, because my legs were sore this week, but the good sore, and they were noticeably slimmer.

It also sucks because I pretty much can't wear any shoes except gym shoes, which makes finding appropriate work clothing nearly impossible. And it also means that walking in general should be kept to a minimum. Which is one of the many reasons why walking to Chris' office after work today was a huge mistake.

We got out of work a bit early today, so I decided to walk over to the hubby's office, which is about three-quarters of a mile from mine, to see if he wanted to cut out a little early to get a drink. On my way there, he said he was finishing up some things, but he should be free in about 30 minutes. So, to kill a little time, I added another quarter-mile or so to my trip to stop by Borders to look for a book I've been meaning to buy. Before I got there, I could tell that my feet weren't holding up so well, but there was pretty much nothing I could about it at that point—save hail a cab, which is something I avoid whenever possible due to the cost, the environment, and the fact that you can walk faster than drive in the Loop. I get to Borders and search for the book for a while unsuccessfully. I ask an employee if he can help me out, and he attempts to. Only it turns out that although the Borders computer says it has the book I want, said book is nowhere to be found on the shelves.

So, empty-handed and feeling slightly defeated, I start walking back toward Chris' office. When I was almost there, he calls to tell me that he has to go to some client meeting and won't be home until later tonight. Feeling even more defeated, and pretty pissed off, I head to Bank of America because there was one right there and I've been meaning to deposit a check and change the name on my account.

The depositing process goes pretty smoothly thanks to the automated nature of automated teller machines. Then I get into line to start the name-changin' process, and I immediately realize that going to a bank at 5 pm on a Friday probably wasn't a good idea. You see, lots of people get paid on Fridays, and apparently, most of them choose to cash their paychecks rather than deposit them. Because heaven forbid you don't have two-weeks' worth of pay burning a hole in your wallet. Anyway, because the people wanted to cash their paychecks rather than deposit them, they all had to wait in the people line rather than the almost-non-existent ATM line. So I get into this people line, only to find out that I really need to be in another people line. So I go get in that line. Finally, I get through that line and have a seat with a banking dude. I start handing him all the necessary documents when he asks, "Wait, is this for a Bank of America account?"

I stare back all blank-eyed, as I'm sitting underneath Bank of America banners, beside a Bank of America kiosk, in front of a Bank of America ATM, behind a Bank-of-America-plastered window, all with that disgusting red, white and blue branding adorning every crevice possible.

"Um, yeah?" I reply.

"Well, I can't access any Bank of America records in my computer system."

You see, despite all the banners, kiosks, posters and flyers that Jeremy from corporate decided to puke up all over this bank, it is not really a Bank of America. It is, in fact, a La Salle Bank in Bank of America's clothing. So, even though, when Bank of America bought out La Salle last year, it decided to change all the branding, marketing materials, advertising, counter tops, kiosks, ATMs, pens and beer cozies to its signature garish red, the powers that be decided NOT to give its new employees access to any of the data that matters. Or at least, not until October.

So, banking dude informs me that I have to go to a real Bank of America, which is at such and such corner, and to make sure I go to THAT one, not one of the three fake ones I'll pass on my way there.

Instead, I hobbled home, thought seriously about downing some shots of tequila, but drank a Diet Pepsi instead.

Monday, May 12, 2008

Deceleration

Remember how I was documenting how many miles I ran every month? I sort of forgot to keep doing that. And along the way, I also sort of started running less and less. Hence:

January: 37 miles
February: 24 miles
March: 12 miles
April: 15 miles
May (so far): 0

So, I need to get back on track. I promised myself I would get up and run before work today, but in the warmth of my bed at 6 a.m., I convinced myself to go running after work.

Regardless of when I run, I need to start doing it daily. It needs to become a routine, because if I've learned anything about myself in the past few months, it's that I really, really like my routine. When it gets out of whack, I get crabby.

Right now, though, the only place it makes sense to stick an hour run everyday is in the morning, because really, I don't need that extra hour of sleep. I'm usually lights-out by 10:30ish every night, so I really should be able to get up at 6 every morning. I just ... don't.

But if I keep trying and trying to adopt this new routine, maybe someday I can be one of those people who gets up early every morning and works out. Odds are, it ain't gonna happen. But — much to Chris' dismay because he has to listen to the alarm I shut off every 10 minutes each morning — I'm going to keep trying.

Friday, May 02, 2008

I Dress Funny

I did my first 5K this year last Sunday. It took me 31:58, so I still need to shave off another two minutes if I want to meet my goal. But there's still about six months of race season left, so I think I'll be able to do it, assuming I run more often than once a week, which is pretty much all I've been doing lately.

Here's a pic from the race. Kinda looks like I'm giving the photographer the stink eye. But that's what he gets for documenting my shorts-over-pants combo.


So, the big Cinco de Mayo party is tomorrow. My house has been taken over by bottles of tequila, tortilla chips, cilantro, and frat boys. It should be an interesting weekend.

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Official News

I've been careful not to jinx myself on this latest development, but I think it's finally safe to say:

We're buying a house.

And...

We're not moving.

A few weeks ago, we got into talks with our landlord to buy our house, a two-flat in Logan Square. After lots of back and forth and negotiations, it looks like we've reached an agreement. We probably won't close until the end of the summer, but it's still super exciting. Because it's a two-flat, we'll continue living on the first floor, and rent out the top floor for a few years. Eventually we'll either buy a single-family and continue renting out the house, or we'll turn the two-flat into a single family.

But I'm getting ahead of myself. We still have to go through the whole inspection, closing, signing-our-life-away process. So, I really shouldn't start mentally planning out how a new fence and siding would look, and how I'd decorate the second floor someday. Or how I want to install built-in shelves into our future office. Or how I want the staircase to look. Because pre-planning all that stuff at this point would be silly, which is why I haven't totally planned out which walls I'm going to repaint and where a new area rug might look nice.

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Annoy Your Neighbors at Work Day

Today is take your kid to work day. Although I'm all for this type of enrichment for America's youth, my appreciation ends when those kids are in the office above me, running around, screaming, and making the ceiling shake.

And who the hell decided to give them whistles????

Monday, April 21, 2008

9 Years Ago

I lived.

Sometimes, I get wrapped up in complaining about the weather, my debt, my shortcomings, and the doggie diarrhea on my floor (more on that later), and I forget to be grateful.

Life is good.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

New Book

So I finally found a book to read: 1984.

I've never read it — I know, I know! No really, I know. I cracked it open for the first time on the bus on Monday, and by page 8, someone stopped me and said "Is this the first time you've read this? ... Seriously?"

So, I'm finally reading it. Although, it's kind of like seeing "Citizen Kane" for the first time after hearing about it your whole life: You pretty much already know the plot, the themes, and all the good lines.

I have a feeling completing it will take me a while because I pretty much do all my reading on the bus. But now that the weather's nicer, I'm riding my bike to work again. I rode for the first time this year on Tuesday. The route was nice, but holy crap am I out of shape. I was huffing and puffing the whole way, even on the downhills, with a tailwind, when I wasn't even peddling. Hello legs, when did you get so weak and flabby? Jerks.

Sunday, April 13, 2008

I am crafty

Enough of this depressing bullmess, let's talk about bags, man.



I made this. It's because I'm so darn crafty. And because my mother-in-law bought me a knitting and felting book and all the needles and yarn to make it.

I've also made a few hats recently. I keep trying to make myself one of those slouchy hats that seem to be all the rage these days, but everytime I finish one, it ends up looking far too hippy for my tastes. So, if you're one of those Patchouli-wearing peeps with quilted corduroy pants and you slightly resemble Shaggy, I totally have a hat for you. Just be forewarned that the hat may or may not have been worn by a shirtless Chris who found that after putting it on, a Matthew McConaughey impression naturally followed.

Friday, April 11, 2008

About last night...

For some reason, the weight of wanting to be better at everything gets to me sometimes. And suddenly, i just want to curl up and check out of civilization for a while because I can never seem to accomplish want I want to accomplish.

I want to lose weight. i want to be an athlete. I want to be one of those people that gets up at 5 a.m everyday and reads the paper and goes to the gym and still gets into work by 8.

I want to be good at small talk ... rather than the person who takes the stairs just so she doesn't have to deal with making conversation with a co-worker she doesn't know very well for a few minutes.

i want to photograph well.

I want to be a better wife, a better dog owner, a better friend, a better family member. I want to remember people's birthdays and send them cards. I want people to rely on me as much as I rely on them, and always be there when they need me.

I want to have hair that looks doesn't look messy all the time.

I want to be one of those people that everyone wants to be around all the time. And I want to be one of those people who doesn't care if people want to be around them all the time.

I want to be someone who doesn't regret saying half the things she says.

I want to dress fabulously.

All you people out there who have it all, who run 30 miles per week and have cute clothes and hair that actually looks done, and have tons of friends and remember birthdays and never drink too much and talk too much, and are engaging, and people hang on your every word. How do you do it? And, can I be you for a while?

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Tonight

Sometimes, it's good to give up drinking for a few weeks.

Sometimes, it's takes a few drinks to connect with your true emotions.

Sometimes, you miss your girlfriends, even when they're sitting next to you.

Sometimes, you feel like you've lost all your friends.

Sometimes, you forget who you are.

Sometimes, you let others define you.

Sometimes, you realize you never had your own personality anyway.

Sometimes, you finally figure out that you're not as smart as you thought you were.

Sometimes, you get treated the way you've treated others.

...and it sucks.

Sometimes, you feel like you want to be everyone else.

....anyone else.

...just not you.


But you never had a choice.

Wednesday, April 02, 2008

I Need Fiction

I finished "The Devil in the White City" a few weeks ago, and now I really need another book to read. Because riding the bus without reading material or an iPod is basically pure torture.

I tend to read a lot more non-fiction than fiction, but after a while my brain gets too full of facts and history, and I need a good story to read that doesn't require me accept that this stuff happened to real people.

I've been meaning to read "Then We Came to the End," but I also have a habit of only reading books about or set in Chicago (i.e. Devil, "The Time Traveler's Wife," "Crossing California," "The Washington Story," "No More Prisons"). Although Chicago is the greatest city ever and is undeniably the center of the universe (If you don't believe me, you should totally read "The Devil in the White City" because pretty much everything you've ever eaten, experienced and thought about is attributable to the 1893 World's Columbian Exposition in Chicago), I should probably read books set in other cities, too.

Got any suggestions? Read anything that's fiction, not set in Chicago, and preferably never been described as "heart-warming" or "as seen on Oprah's Book Club"? Send 'em my way, please.

Monday, March 31, 2008

I Fell Off

I fell off the wagon. Oh, you didn’t know I was on the wagon? Well, I was. And now I’m not.

You see, I had another one of those St. Patrick’s Days. This time I actually made it home and even got a few hours of sleep before the purging began, but still, not one of my finer moments.

The following day, I decided to give up drinking for a while. Seven weeks, to be exact—I thought I could try going from the day after St. Pat’s until Cinco de Mayo without a drop.

I lasted two weeks. But, I think I had a pretty good reason for my fall: it’s Opening Day. And what goes better with the return of baseball than a few cold beers—especially when your boss gives everyone in the company the OK to leave work for the afternoon to watch the Cubs game at a local bar? (Yes, I do work at the coolest place ever.)

So, the wagon and I, we had a nice little run. But it was time to head our separate ways. Maybe we’ll get back together sometime, like when I become one of those breeders. But for now, Hello booze.

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Things I don't understand today

- People who say they don't like curry.

- Why it's snowing and sleeting at the end of March.

- How they get so much freaking flavor into Jelly Bellies.

- Why some dudes will eat Chinese food, but think Thai food is froo-froo.

- How UConn lost in the first round.

- People who have everything they could ever want in life, yet still find shit to complain about.

- Why I ever liked Steve Miller Band.

- Nougat.

Monday, March 24, 2008

Cream of Poblano Soup



About a year ago or so, my sister and I tried cream of poblano soup at El Tapatio, a little Mexican restaurant located near our hair dresser. It’s was one of those food experiences that you think about over and over again — spicy, warm, comforting, creamy, cheesy, crunchy soup. Basically, a foodgasm.



Since then, I’ve searched the Internet far and wide searching for a recipe that resembles the restaurant’s. After trying out a few I found and tested on my then-pregnant friends, I finally landed on one that’s pretty darn close. It’s spicy and creamy and cheesy, and the tortilla chip adds a nice crunch. I feel like, compared to the restaurant version, it’s still missing a little something-something I can’t put my finger on. Or maybe I just enjoyed it more in the restaurant because, unlike the home version, it followed a large margarita and didn’t come with all that related-dishwashing baggage.



Cream of Poblano Soup with Cheese Crust
Adapted from Soup Song

1 Tablespoon olive oil
1 Tablespoon butter
3 medium poblano peppers, seeded and chopped
2 onions, chopped
1 carrot, chopped
4 cups chicken or vegetable stock
1 large potato, chopped
1/2 cup whipping cream (or yogurt)
1 Tablespoon cilantro, chopped
8 large tortilla chips
1 cup of Monterrey Jack cheese, grated

Heat the oil and butter in a large saucepan. Add peppers, onions and carrots and sauté slowly for 5 minutes. Stir in the stock, add the diced potatoes, bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer for 30 minutes.

Remove from heat and puree in a blender (I used an immersion blender. Greatest. Invention. Ever.), solids first to get a smooth texture. Return to the pot. Add the cream and season with salt to taste.

When ready to serve, bring to simmer and stir in the cilantro. Ladle into oven-proof bowls, top with 2 tortilla chips, sprinkle with cheese and run under the broiler. Top each bowl with a cilantro leaf and take to the table.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

No Girls Allowed

This terrifies me.

Chris and I have often said that we're never having daughters. Seriously, if I ever happen to birth one, I'll send it back to its womb until it learns how to be a boy. Because I can not fathom the idea of raising a daughter in the age of make-up and perfume and mini manis and pedis marketed to 3 year olds.

And if I do manage to spawn a female someday, she will not be allowed to watch TV or read magazines or go to the mall or go online until she's 25.

Ugh.

Wednesday, March 05, 2008

Can't resist singing "Kokomo"

So, I'm back from Aruba. I've actually been back for a week, unlike my parents, who decided last minute to stay for another week. Ah, the retired life.

Anyway, since returning, I just haven't had the time/motivation to blog. In fact, I finally unpacked from the trip last night. Work, just getting back into the swing of things and an ongoing knitting project have kept me away from the computer.

As far as my seasonal "issues" go, it's too early to tell if I've just got the winter blues, if Aruba cured them, or if it's something else. I'm still pretty peeved about the weather here, especially because it's March, yet still in the 20s. But the sun's been out lately, so that's helped my mood. That, and falling asleep on the couch to the sounds of baseball this weekend. I swear, there is no better napping than baseball-induced napping. Especially if the nap is preceded by a sandwich and cold beer. Heaven.

Anyway, now it's time to bore you with vacation pictures. At least I didn't pull out the projector.

me and chris in our beach wear.

the beautiful bride and groom.

me and the bride's family. the tall gentleman to my left, josh, is the bride's brother and my ex-husband. we got married when we were 3. then we had to get divorced so i could marry chris. it was pretty messy, dividing up the playhouse and sandbox and all. but now i've got chris, and josh is in an up-and-coming indie band, so it's all good.

chris enjoys climbing on things.

here, he gets my mom to join him. together, they command the waves.

we got some sun.

parting shot. i'm one lucky gal.

Monday, February 18, 2008

Ups and downs

One of my goals this year was to drop five pounds by the time I go to Aruba, which is in two days. I’m sad to say that I didn’t quite make it. I only lost 3 pounds. However, all that weight lifting, running and ellipticizing has gotten me in decent shape, even though the scale refuses to agree with me. Good enough shape that yesterday I went out and bought a pair of jeans in a size I never, ever thought I’d be able to wear. Granted, the cut of the jeans, which have a slightly higher rise than I normally wear, greatly affected the size. Had I bought jeans in my normal super low-rise style, I would have had to go up one or two sizes. But still, nothing can put a smile on my face like successfully zipping up a pair of jeans four sizes smaller than I wore at my heaviest.

Because I’m thinking about that resolution, I thought I’d check in with a few others as well. For starters, there’s my goal to run a 5k in less than 30 minutes. Being February in Chicago, I’ve done little outdoor running this year. So, I've used a treadmill, where I’ve managed to clock in a 5k at 31:30. However, that’s inside, sans wind, on a totally flat surface. So, I’m thinking I’ll need to get that down to less than 27 minutes inside to actually be able to do it in less than 30 outside.

As far as my mileage goes, I ran about 37 miles in January. I’ll need to crank up my weekly mileage if I want to break 500 miles this year, but hopefully once the weather gets better, I’ll be able to get in more long runs outside.

Speaking of the weather, I’m so done. I really try not to complain about the weather in Chicago, as I’m quite defensive of the city when others complain about it. Besides, I’ve lived in upstate New York; Chicago’s weather pales in comparison.

However, this year, I just can’t take it anymore. This winter has been awful. Tons of snow. Super cold temperatures. Days on end without seeing the sun. Everyday, I trudge through the snow (because the shit heads in my neighborhood don’t shovel their sidewalks) to the bus stop, then wait for 20 minutes. Then I do the whole thing over again at night. Except at night, the bus is usually running super late, so I wait for a half hour, only to have a totally full bus refuse to stop to pick me up because it can’t take any more passengers. So I wait for another 10 minutes, in the cold, and the wind, on the brink of tears. Every. Day.

I’m not the type of person who gets depressed. Like, if I’m feeling down, it usually lasts about 20 minutes. But this winter, I’ve been in a serious funk. Note the frequency of posts. It’s gotten better as I’ve gotten closer to the Aruba trip, but for most of this winter, I’ve been seriously down. Like, sleeping for 14 hours straight, not eating, and crying for no reason. And I can’t explain it. I don’t know why I feel this way. Then there’s this anxiety, like I’m trapped by the weather. I feel like I can’t get warm enough. I’m always cold. It sucks.

I don’t know much about seasonal affective disorder, but I sorta think that might be what’s going on. But what I don’t understand is why I’ve never felt this way before. I’ve certainly dealt with my fair share of long, snowy, cold winters. I hope that this upcoming trip to the always-85-degree-and-sunny island will recharge whatever needs recharging. But I’m scared that I’ll return and fall into an even deeper funk because I won’t have another island getaway to look forward to.

Ugh. Sorry this post is such a downer.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Delusions of a Food Blog

I apologize for my recent absenteeism. Since I last posted, I got a promotion (yay!), and then I got a nasty cold (boo). In any case, it’s time to get back to the blog, and now I sorta have something to blog about:

It’s Lent.

I’m not Catholic, nor am I particularly religious. I am, however, a big fan of testing my willpower and forcing loved ones to play along. So this year for Lent, Chris and I decided to give up all meat except fish. Basically, this was the result of many conversations we’ve had about our favorite foods that have ended in, “You know, I could totally give up everything except seafood.” So far, I’ve barely even noticed the change, except that I eat a lot less soup now. But luckily, Trader Joe’s came along and filled that void with so many wonderful different bean dishes. I used to hate beans, but now, I’m obsessed. Like lentils? More like delicious-tils! But my new bean obsession is another post for another day.

Anyway, the decision to become a pescetarian for Lent also happened to coincide with another new obsession: food blogs. Smitten Kitchen, for example, has become a new daily must-read (along with this site, which has absolutely nothing to do with food blogs...).

Yeah, so, anyway, I had this great idea in my head that I would start blogging about my fantastic fish/vegetarian creations and prove to the world that I am some sort of domestic goddess, despite the fact that my husband does most of the delicious cooking in our house, while I am merely the baker. However, it turns out that food blogging is a lot more difficult than I first thought. For starters, most nights I get home from work and have a bowl of cereal for dinner. This has nothing to do with Lent; it’s just my dinner of choice — and obviously not food-blog worthy. And second, assuming I’ve actually gone to the trouble of creating something to blog about, once I’ve finished cooking, instead of getting to enjoy my tasty delights right away, I have to whip out the camera and document my work. This simple, yet oh-so-important step, is often skipped.

For example, Chris and I had a little dinner party this weekend. Well first, let me back up a bit. Remember our friends Barkley and his urine-obsessed buddy Popcorn? Turns out even though the humans in our house weren’t too keen on sharing our digs with three dogs, Rosie thought it was coolest shit ever. So, when Barks and Pops went home, Rosie went into a bit of doggie-withdrawal depression.

So, to lift her spirits, we decided to have a dinner party and invite over some of our friends and their pet dogs. The result was a rottweilier, wheaten terrier and shih-tzu joyously running around and around our kitchen table:


Later in the evening, after the puppies were spent from all the table rounding and backyard snow diving, and after their owners had polished off a few bottles of wine, Rosie decided that it was bedtime, and that she should invite her new friends to our her bed:



The doggie party definitely lifted Rosie’s spirits. Although the next day, she was pretty tuckered out:


(It’s because of moments like these that Chris and I have so willingly turned over our bed, couch, carpets, freedom and any hope of a clean house to Rosie.)

But anyway, back to the food. For our little dinner party, Chris made an amazing Greek shrimp dish, which we devoured long before I remembered to take out the camera for documentation. The same goes for the mini spanakopitas I made as a side dish. In fact, the only proof I have of our efforts is this sad, leftover piece of flourless chocolate cake topped with whipped cream and raspberries:


Keep in mind that I made the cake on Saturday, but took this pic on Tuesday. In the meantime, the raspberry sauce has soaked into the chocolate. So I swear, it looked better three days ago. The recipes for both the cake and spanakopita, along with a few notes, are below. Enjoy!

Flourless Chocolate Cake
Adapted from a Wolfgang Puck recipe found at the Food Network

4 ounces unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
8 ounces bittersweet chocolate, cut into small pieces (I didn’t have any bittersweet in the house, so I used a combo of unsweetened and semi-sweet. I used 6 ounces semi-sweet and 2 ounces unsweetened. Personally, I’m a fan of super dark chocolate, so in the future, I may up the unsweetened percentage.)
5 eggs, separated
Pinch salt
2/3 cup sugar
Powdered sugar, for garnish
Unsweetened whipped cream, for garnish (I just used the canned variety)
Half package frozen raspberries, thawed (I added this last ingredient because I love the combination of chocolate and raspberries. Fresh raspberries would probably be better, however, they’re not in season, and the frozen raspberries are more soupy, which makes them easier to spread out on top of the cake.)

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F. Butter and flour a 10-inch round cake pan.

Combine the butter and chocolate and melt in a double boiler over barely simmering water. Whisk together the egg yolks, salt, and all but 3 tablespoons of the sugar. Stir the melted chocolate into the egg yolks until thoroughly combined.

With an electric mixer, on medium speed, beat the egg whites until soft peaks form. Gradually beat in the remaining sugar and continue to whip until the egg whites are stiff, but not dry,

Carefully fold the chocolate mixture into the egg whites. Pour into the prepared pan. Bake for 1 hour and 15 minutes. Turn out onto a rack immediately. As the cake cools, the center will sink and crack - do not worry.

Dust the cake with powdered sugar or decorate the top with melted chocolate and serve with unsweetened whipped cream and raspberries.


Spanakopita (Spinach Pie)
Adapted from a Williams-Sonoma recipe (This site has tons of great recipes.)

1 lb. spinach, tough stems removed, coarsely chopped
1 1/4 cups crumbled feta cheese
1/2 cup grated kefalotiri, Parmigiano-Reggiano or pecorino cheese (I ended up using fresh parmesan because I couldn’t find affordable Parmigiano-Reggiano.)
4 eggs, lightly beaten
2 Tbs. chopped fresh mint
1/2 tsp. ground nutmeg
Salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
1/2 lb. phyllo dough (20 sheets), thawed if frozen (The phyllo I buy is sold in a 1 lb. package with 18 sheets. So, I cut the sheets in half lengthwise, which worked well because I wanted the pies to be more bite-size than the typical spinach pie.)
8 Tbs. (1 stick) unsalted butter, melted and cooled

Heat a large fry pan over medium-high heat. Add the spinach with only the rinsing water clinging to the leaves, cover and cook until wilted, about 1 minute. Drain well on paper towels, then squeeze out as much of the remaining liquid as possible. Place in a large bowl and add the feta cheese, kefalotiri cheese, eggs, mint, and nutmeg. Stir well to combine. Season with salt and pepper.

Preheat an oven to 375°F.

Lightly butter a baking sheet. Cut the stack of phyllo sheets lengthwise into 3 equal strips (Because I already cut the sheets in half once, I just halved them again for this step, so you’ll end up with 2 equal strips.) Remove 1 strip and cover the remaining phyllo with a slightly dampened kitchen towel to prevent it from drying out. Place the strip on a work surface and brush lightly with melted butter. Place another strip on top. Brush the second strip lightly with melted butter. Place a heaping teaspoonful of the filling about 1 inch in from the bottom of the strip. Fold the uncovered end over the filling on the diagonal to form a triangular shape. Bring the bottom of the triangle up against the straight edge. (Essentially, fold like a flag.) Continue folding in this manner until the tip of the strip is reached, forming a triangular pastry. Brush lightly with melted butter. Place on the prepared baking sheet. Repeat with the remaining phyllo and filling.

Bake until golden, about 15 minutes. (I’d suggest flipping them halfway through. We ended up with pies that were perfectly golden on the bottom, but only slightly golden on top.)

Remove from the oven and transfer to a platter. Serve immediately (Um, not a good idea. My friend totally burnt her tongue on the filling even though the phyllo had cooled to the touch. On the plus side, she kept going even though they were too hot, risking injury just because they were so tasty. Or at least, that’s what I choose to believe. Regardless, I’d suggest letting these sit out for about 10 to 15 minutes before serving.)