Thursday, May 31, 2012

Get You Through It Mix

 image via the drop

This play list will get you through your next workout or your next bad day. Especially good for pepping you up for projects that you really really don't want to do.

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

My Favorite Summer Cocktail

This vintage English cocktail is the most delicious, refreshing summer drink that, to my surprise, includes gin! What really makes this perfect is the cucumber, so don't leave it out.

Pimm's Cup

3/4 c. gin
1/4 c. Pimm's no. 1
1 lemon, cut into half slices
1 orange, cut into half slices
1/2 cucumber, cut into half slices
1 c. strawberries, cut into small chunks
2 large sprigs of mint, muddled

Add just before serving:
2 cans of sparkling lemon soda (I used La Croix Lemon and added a few tablespoons of sugar)

Add all to a pitcher and stir well. Let steep for an hour, and then add the sparkling lemon soda. Serve with ladle so that you get all of the fruit bits in your glass too. If you have any Pimm's Cup left over, cover the pitcher with plastic wrap and reuse it later in the week. Time only makes it better. Just add a bit more gin and lemon soda before your next pour.

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Just a Minute: May Edition

exciting...My parents came in for Memorial weekend. This was the first time they've been up to Chicago in the summer, so I had all sorts of plans (and yes, I realize that many of them involved food). When they got in on Thursday night, we had some dinner, then I took them to Lickety Split for some custard. We went to the beach, then on to Chinatown for lunch, bubble teas, and some exotic grocery shopping on Friday and then on a sunset architectural cruise on the Chicago River downtown. Saturday, we headed to Lincoln Park for the farmer's market and then got some Thai banh mi sandwiches for lunch from Ba Le on the way home. Saturday night we went to Smoque for ribs and then headed to the Hideout for an evening of live bluegrass. On Sunday we had lunch at Glenn's diner, explored Architectural Artifacts (an architectural salvage place in Ravenswood), and then grilled out with all the neighbors that evening. On Monday, we had leftover ribs and fried chicken for breakfast before taking a walk to Andersonville in the morning before they headed out after lunch.

lovingCut the Rope Experiments is free in the app store this week. I love that cute little creature. Go get this for your iPhone while you can. Not sure if it's available for Android, but if it is (or if the original Cut the Rope is), it is worth the money because they update and add 25 new levels every couple of months or so. Great puzzles with clever themes.

readingThe City of Dreaming Books, which is quite possibly the weirdest book I've read in a long time. I don't want to give anything away, but the blurbs on back describe it as a "kaleidoscopic vision" and "equal parts J.K. Rowling, Douglas Adams, and Shel Silverstein." Guess what? That's pretty accurate so far. Luckily, I'm a big fan of all three of those authors, so I'm enjoying it.
watching...the finale of House was truly great. I have rarely seen one that fit all the show characters so well and actually left me feeling like the show was wrapped up.

drinking…the Pimm's Cup. The perfect summery adult beverage. It actually convinced me to like gin, which was quite a feat! Stay tuned this week for my recipe. art to go above our fireplace. I'll be showing that off later this week or early next week.

image from the marion house book
baking...For the picnic on Sunday night, we made these Salty Caramel Brownies that I found on the marion house book ages ago, but hadn't gotten around to making. They are delish. I think they would be perfect made in individual small ramekins the day before and then topped with vanilla ice cream right before serving. Small because they are crazy rich and decadent. The great thing about these brownies is that they're so gooey, their consistency seems fresh out of the oven even when they're completely cool. DO NOT top with ice cream right out of the oven or you might as well just pour milk on top.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Why I Should Never Have a Reality Television Show

I very rarely win my fights with Nathan. No one needs to see that. Least of all me.

I say horrifying things that would make my audience hate me. For example, when I was in college studying abroad in Italy, I was flashed by a man in an alley in Florence one night. I was (justifiably) disturbed. However, I ACTUALLY COMPARED HIS UNWANTED SEXUAL EXHIBITION TO RAPE. Out loud. Yes, I was that girl. I shudder every time I remember those words being let out into the world. Can you imagine if they were actually on tape? And you know they would use that in promos.

I eat entirely too much for television. Not only do I actually eat sandwiches and whole plates of pasta, but I have *gasp* dessert. Sometimes at both lunch and dinner. Not usually at breakfast though.

According to Nathan, I criticize him. All. The. Time. So apparently, I'd look like one of those harpy wives bossing him around and always rolling my eyes and being sarcastic to him. I like imagining that I'm the victim here. I don't need video proof that it's the other way around.

I have been known to smack my cat. But guys, he totally deserved it. He was meowing, and meowing, and meowing, and meowing, and meowing. Still, that would not go over well with PETA, I'm sure.

My sassy gay friends are all 40+ and wouldn't dream of getting into screaming fights with me. They'd rather sit around in the backyard drinking wine and talking about NATO (or DWTS).

I wouldn't dream of paying someone to be my fashion stylist, wig stylist, cat stylist, makeup artist, nanny, cat walker, housekeeper, chauffeur, psychic, pet interpreter, groundskeeper, or husband wrangler (well, I'd consider paying someone to do that last one).

I am a terrible actress. When I was in fourth grade I managed to say my lone line in the class play as "Fish fly in the sky, birds swim in the sea." If someone told me I needed to reenact a conversation I'd had so they could get it on tape, it would be awkward and wooden and...wait, I guess that's not really a deal-breaker for those reality TV shows. Never mind.

Monday, May 21, 2012

New Fruit

I tried a new fruit this weekend. Now I can add the guayaba to my list. Had sort of a banana-y texture and flavor, but with a fruity element too. Kind of a passion fruit flavor, I think, (though I haven't tried a real passion fruit yet, so that's not scientific.)
Forgive the blurry photo. People were staring at
me taking this photo, and I felt self-concious. 
The little yellow things in the front are the guayaba.
They're about the size of golf balls, but really soft.

Lots of seeds, which I ate. It was a little odd, but not bad.

Friday, May 18, 2012

Well Said

 "I never saw the green light at the end of Daisy's dock or the parties on Gatsby's lawn, but they seem more vivid than things that I actually lived. If we are the sum of our experiences, as I believe we are, then books are a more important part of my life than my actual life. That's what I try to do with my own fiction. Fill the stories with imaginary people who will become more real to my readers than the people in their lives."
 George R.R. Martin

Excerpt from May 24, 2012 Rolling Stone Interview, "The Hand Behind the Throne" by Gavin Edwards

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Things I Am Really Embarrassed to Admit

I ate 1/3 of a watermelon for lunch last Thursday.

Sometimes Nathan and I talk to our cat about his "mommy" or "daddy," and we are REFERRING TO EACH OTHER.

The other day I watched a homeless woman being evicted from the vestibule of the building across the road. An hour later I checked our vestibule to make sure she hadn't moved into ours.

Once I hit my head on the dryer door so hard that I had to lay down on the floor for awhile until I was sure I wasn't going to pass out.

In my fourth grade spelling bee, I got out in the first round because of the word barracks.

I am guilty of rage tweeting. Over a burrito. (Was going to link to them, but I'm pretty sure I deleted them out of shame.)

I was heckled by a small child hanging out the window of his apartment building during a recent tennis lesson. He was right, my swing did suck.

Once, on a day when I worked from home, I didn't brush my teeth until just before lunchtime.

I have used the phrase "kids today" to complain, in all seriousness, about an intern.

I spent a crazy long time trying to figure out what was wrong with our DVD player before finally realizing that I was trying to play a BluRay disc.

I am knowingly and voluntarily a part of a pyramid scheme.

Monday, May 14, 2012

Recent Converstation #11

Me, whining: They cancelled my tennis lessons an hour before it was supposed to start because they don't have enough people.
Him: That stinks. Will they give your money back?
Me: Yeah, but I'm ticked because I was really looking forward to this. I was even going to accomplish a New Year's Resolution for once.
Him: Well, maybe you can take some lessons from Nathan McArdle.
Me: Really? You think? I'm kind of intimidated by him. Also, I heard his class is hard to get into. Can you pull some strings?
Him: Maybe.
Me: Do you think I can get a discount if I put out?
Him: Maybe.
Me: Maybe? Maybe? I'm sure you meant to say definitely.
Him: Yes. I did.

Friday, May 11, 2012

Martha, No. Just No.

It's usually a good idea to go to Martha for upcoming holiday inspiration. However, sometimes those craft gurus at Martha Stewart Living seem so intent on cranking out the projects that you wonder if there's ever a project they deem unfit for the web. Here are a few they've suggested for Mother's Day that I sincerely question.

The perfect gift if mom is working on a rag rug or if she is a Rastafarian
(but seriously, how crazy/cool would this look on someone wearing dreads? )

There is no mistaking this as a stylish fashion necklace.
It is clearly a woman wearing giant bouncy balls and pantyhose around her neck.
Fashion, Martha owes you an apology.

Severed baby limbs? You're welcome, Mom.

You won't find these in a mall, but you might find them hanging from your nearest lamp.
You should not, however, find them hanging from your mother's ears because that's just wrong.

What?! I am sure as hell not wearing a button around that says this
no matter what day of the year it is.

Why, Martha? Why?

Thursday, May 10, 2012

New Use for an Old Thing, Vol. 2

Sugar Canister twine dispenser ($0.50, Goodwill)
I can't take credit for this cute idea; I originally saw it on Pinterest. I love that I can leave my twine out with some of my other crafting supplies (see below) because they look good.

Salt shaker as straight pin storage ($1, local thrift store)
When I found this old salt shaker, I didn't have a use for it yet; however, the easy to screw off lid made using it as a sewing pin holder a good choice. Whenever I need to use a handful of pins, I just turn it upside down and shake a few out.

Straw holder for washi tape ($8, eBay)
I had seen these straw holders used to store ribbon on Pinterest and loved the look. I have a giant box of ribbon though, and I realized that finding spools that were small enough to fit was actually going to prove to be unrealistic. With my sudden collection of varieties of washi tape, I knew I had the perfect storage place for them.

Desk lamp wall sconces ($15, eBay; new cord-$5, Home Depot)
We needed some extra light in the living room and in the bedroom, but we didn't have any table or floor space to spare. I had the thought to use a few old shop desk lamps as wall sconces. Once I rewired them, they were the perfect solution.

Toast stand mail holder ($3, hometown antique mall)
I needed a place to put all the paper odds and ends we save on our desk. The few paper bills we still pay, flyers for upcoming events, etc. now go in their little metal organizer and keep our desk top looking neat.

Picture frame mirror ($7, local junk store; mirror-$8, hardware store)
Buying a large mirror new can be very expensive. I found a shortcut by purchasing a large wooden picture frame and getting a piece of mirror glass cut to fit it at our local hardware store. (This strategy came in very handy when I was collecting mirrors for the mirror wall in the dining room.)

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Comfort Food


    This is my absolute favorite meal. No matter what time
    of year, when I last had fish, or how much time I have to
    prepare dinner, I jump on the chance to have this for
    dinner. I've made it enough that's it's really fast to make
    now, but I will warn you that there are three steps which,
    on your first attempt, can make this seem time consuming.
    A good blender is a must. And the lemon vinaigrette is the
    best part, so DO NOT skip it.

    I think this recipe is originally from Giada, but I got it
    from my upstairs neighbor.

Orange Ruffy with Radicchio,
Cannelini Beans, and Lemon Vinaigrette

 Time: Approximately 30 minutes total
 Serves 2-4 people

1-2 heads of radicchio*
3 shallots, finely chopped 
1 can* cannelini (white kidney) beans
1/3 c. fish broth or water

4 light fish filets (Orange Ruffy, talapia, etc.)
salt and pepper
1-2 tablespoons butter


             Juice and zest of 2 lemons
             2-3 garlic cloves 
             salt and pepper
             1/3 c. olive oil
             large handful of fresh parsley

 If you use a vegetable peeler for lemon peel (which I do), then you probably only need to do one lemon. Throw whole strips of peel, juice of two lemons, whole peeled garlic cloves, and 1/2  t. salt and 1/4 t. pepper into the blender and blend well. While blender is on, stream in olive oil. Stick a finger in and taste. Add more salt and pepper or lemon juice if needed. Throw in parsley and blend one final time. Set aside.

Thinly slice the radicchio. In hot pan, add 1 tablespoon of olive oil. Add shallots, and cook
until translucent. Add radicchio. Stir occasionally. Cook until wilted with some browned edges.

While radicchio is cooking, pat filets dry. Salt and pepper both sides lightly. Coat well in flour. In another hot pan, add in a pat or two of butter and add two filets. Cook thoroughly, approximately 3 minutes on each side.

Add 1/3 c. fish broth or water (I've used both. The broth gives it a bit more flavor, but it's hard to find in the store. I made and froze broth-in 1/3 c. increments-that I made from crayfish shells, but when that ran out, I've just used water.) Add cannelini (white kidney) beans to radicchio, and cook until warmed through.

Layer plate with radicchio, fish, and then top with lemon vinaigrette. Really great with greens on the side, noodles, orzo or Israeli couscous.

*We really love the radicchio layer, so I usually use 2 small to medium heads of radicchio and 2 cans of beans with a splash more broth/water.

Thursday, May 3, 2012

You Should Date an Illiterate Girl

Girl with Book by Imaekelley via flickr

 I love this piece, You Should Date an Illiterate Girl, by Charles Warnke on Thought Catalog.

"Don’t date a girl who reads because girls who read are the storytellers. You with the Joyce, you with the Nabokov, you with the Woolf. You there in the library, on the platform of the metro, you in the corner of the cafĂ©, you in the window of your room. You, who make my life so god damned difficult. The girl who reads has spun out the account of her life and it is bursting with meaning. She insists that her narratives are rich, her supporting cast colorful, and her typeface bold."

Read the rest, here.