Thursday, July 29, 2010

One Thing Thursday: Alice Springs, Australia

A while ago, I spent a month wandering around Australia, traveling by semi-myself, but with a pack of revolving Europeans on a bus tour. The trip started in Alice Springs. I flew there from Wellington, New Zealand where it had been wet and gray and winter yuck for the past five months. I remember touching down and hopping on a bus to my hotel and peeling off my grubby cardigans and finally feeling the sun on my arms. I felt like a whole new person, ready to do some adventuring.

Me, upon first arriving in Alice Springs. Even though my sleeping arrangements included a bottom bunk and my only snack option was crunchy peanut butter, I was so happy.

Alice Springs was not a place I expected to fall head over heels for. It's hot and in the middle of nowhere and kind of small (actually, a lot like Des Moines, except it's cold here). I'm still not even sure if it was the high of solo traveling or the actual town that got me all giddy, but having traveled alone to other places before and not had the same longing to go back, I think it's safe to say that the magic was all Alice's.

One thing to do in Alice Springs? Head out of town and camp.

In case you can't tell, this is me. Sleeping outdoors. Like 100-freaking-% outdoors. On my bag of makeup.

So, not technically in the city proper of Alice Springs, but amazing. Alice Springs is near Uluru, or Ayer's Rock. Somewhere, not too far from the Rock, our tour group camped. Like really, truly camped, which I'd never done before. As an alumnae of St. Louis' answer to Troop Beverly Hills, my camping experiences all involved cabins, high-pitched bug-induced squeals and the occasional pizza delivery. When I saw the tour director hauling out G.I. sleeping bags and nothing else, I may have panicked.

But, there was really no need. I slept outside, no tent and no major bug/snake repelling cocoon needed. After our bonfire went out, it was just me and nature, man. It was unexpectedly delightful. I slept like an outdoor hippie baby and woke with the sun. I may or may not have spent the rest of the next day in the campground's pool, but I roughed it for that one night. Which is one more night than I could have said otherwise. Boundaries = stretched.

Two things in Alice Springs? Get mistaken for a Latina celeb. Yes. I, whitest of the white girls, was told I looked like Mariah Carey. Totally not true, but I was flattered.

Showing my new friend Yuki a good time, as I am apt to do (aka request Nelly from the DJ and introduce people to the joys of Flippy Cup - ah, the cultural interactions of my early 20s!). All neck, zero cares in this world. Uber-disclaimer: I'd just eaten kangaroo.

You see it, too, right? Mariah, look out please.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

In which I get all hippie dippie on ya

So. Hubs and I were supposed to go to Panama. We bought the plane tickets on a whim and all was well. We were set to scurry to a land of ex-pats and yogis and snorkeling.
Until I started reading some travel forums. It seemed like every reviewer of our intended destination had a horror story – drugged drinks, hotel break-ins, near attacks, muggings, a gol-dang serial killer on the loose. Not to mention the other sad posts about how environmentally irresponsible a lot of the tourism and development is down there. Not a freaking word about the peaceful yoga on the beach or sweet hippie freaks I'd read about two months ago.

These were bad vibes, man. I could tell that this was not going to be the relaxing trip we had wanted. Who could relax when there is constantly that one story about that one couple in the back of your mind? How can you enjoy a snorkel excursion when people are standing on living reefs and ruining them? The short answer is that we cannot. The vibes would not allow it.

Now, obviously, I’m not the most green gal in these parts, but I don’t really want to pay hundreds of dollars and travel for 24 hours to watch nature be blatantly destroyed by a tourism industry that seems to be growing too fast for itself. And I’m not a huge freaking travel chicken, either. I've traveled alone and wandered through cities at night, but this felt different. I don’t want to test my theory that Panama was giving Hubs and I some seriously bad juju.
So, the tickets have all been cancelled and we are back to square one. We lost a few hundred on this deal, which sweetholybuckets, hurt my soul and my cheapness, but as my husband so wisely put it, “If we went and were robbed/injured/worse, I would rather watch the money burn.”

Have you ever cancelled a trip because of bad vibes? Or, on a lighter note – where should we go now? We’re thinking Napa or the Keys because we seem to be incredibly yuppie this year. Next thing you know I'll be wearing sweaters around my shoulders and buying a poodle. Isn't that what happens after you check in to a Sandals?

Saturday, July 24, 2010

The cuke to beat all cukes

Another Thursday, another CSA delivery! It was a quiet week: some basil, zucchini (because I need more of them), three kinds of onions (yessssssssss), some more basil and the crown jewel - some zucchini muffins. I feel like you know zucchinis are taking over the planet when even the CSA would rather send muffins than raw veggies.

A quick step outside led to our next vegetable harvest and it wasn't even from our garden. Our neighbor handed over this:

The biggest flippin' cucumber I've ever seen. Tzatziki fo' life, man. That Greek dip stle my heart in 2003 when I first had a gyro and there has been no turning back since. Think I can freeze tzatziki? I don't really know if even I, dip lover extraordinaire, can down the dip produced by a cuke that is larger than my arm.

Gyro party, anyone?

Friday, July 23, 2010

My life as a river rat

For reasons unknown to me (but I presume it was an overriding sense of thriftiness), my dad hoards take-out packages of ketchup, soy sauce, pre-packaged plastic forks, and other random condiments. Without fail, every time we'd enjoy some White Castle and there remained a few extra salt or relish packs, he'd scoop them up, drop them in a bowl in our kitchen cabinets and proclaim, "Savin' it for float trip." It was a mantra around our house.
The items piled up and I could have traced the evolving McDonald's brand from our epic single-use packet supply. You see, as far as I can tell, my dad never went on a float trip (at least not in my memory. I'm pretty sure you can't get a Missouri driver's licence without having tubed down the Meramac, so he must have gone sometime.). I remember one time I used a packet of Arby sauce on a turkey sandwich on one of those good Hawaiian rolls at the lake. That's it, the only time I ever used the float trip supplies.

Now, in my own house, I've caught myself secreting away tiny honey packets from Popeye's and I may have once used Jimmy John's napkins when we had guests. But, I'm determined to keep my collection in check.

Each year, Hubs' fellow scientists plan a float trip down the Raccoon River. Like any good float trip, there's lots of food, lots of booze (Blue Moon comes in float trip friendly cans now!) and more rowdiness than you'd expect from donners of lab coats.

We float this weekend, so I've already got my condiments and sporks ready to go in a baggie in a baggie in a baggie and I'm ready to share the wealth. Want some BBQ sauce for your sandwich? Ranch for your carrot sticks? Napkin for the beer you spilled? Wet nap to wash your hands? Salt for your tequila shot? I've got it!

Who else has big weekend plans that include pawning off left-overs on friends? Or just big plans?

Thursday, July 22, 2010

One Thing Thursday: Golden, Colorado

About a year ago, Hubs and I headed west for my childhood pal's lovely mountaintop wedding. My parents and little sister were driving over from St. Louis and meeting us there. Since the wedding was on a Friday, we had Saturday to hang out and enjoy Golden, which might be the cutest little western town I've ever seen. (I've been in Colorado for all of 64 hours in my life, so clearly, I am an expert.)

Anyway, here's one thing you should do in Golden: Watch people tube down Clear Creek. Or, do it yourself if you like 35 degree water and near-drowning.

Clear Creek is made up mostly of run-off from the snow in the mountains and it's also the creek that makes Coors fresh from the Rockies. It's a short float from the library parking lot to the hopping out point, but it's a little rough and majorly cold, so I'm sure it feels longer than it is.

Little Sister Tubing, a Photo Essay.

Before floating, Nervy St. Nerverson:

During floating, smile pretty:

After floating, not dead:

Not even considering floating, looking forward to a Coors:
If you have time for two things: A quick stroll around Red Rocks Park/Amphitheater is cool. I wish we could have had more time to see a concert there, but it wasn't in the cards.

Disclaimer: I noticed that people in Colorado are just a smidge more outdoorsy and active than people in Iowa. So, I'm sure that if a person from Golden (a Goldenite?) was writing this list, it'd have things like "scale a mountain," "wrestle a cougar" or "kayak up a mountain." That's just not how I roll. Not. At. All.

PS: Did you notice I didn't mention food in this one? Like, at all? I'm proud.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

When in doubt, fry it.

We have a ton of sage bushes out back. So, when my wine-a-day desk calendar suggested frying sage leaves and enjoying them like potato chips with a glass of champagne, how could I say no? I rarely refuse the demands of the wine-a-day calendar. It can be so dang persuasive.

We dusted them in a little flour and plopped them in the oil.

Once crispy, we tried the fried leaves. They were kind of bland, really. The sage flavor really mellowed out. Downing these puppies plain was no longer an option.
Luckily, it was burger night at Case de Bigger, Better, Best. Together with fresh mozzarella, the fried sage came back to life and added just the right amount of flavor and light crisp to the burgers.
Verdict: Totally worth doing if you have left over oil and sage leaves. Use them as a topping for burgers, pizza, Italian nachos or pasta bakes.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Nowhere to hide

Warning: This post contains the dirtiest picture I've ever posted online.

The closets in this house have tons of built-ins. Cabinets, drawers and the closet itself times three. That's great in theory, but really when two people have so many places to throw junk and keep it hidden, things get ugly fast.

Case in point, our bedroom cabinet:
See what I'm saying? Dirrrty, Christina Aguilera style. The cabinet was were I kept yarn, clothes to be dry-cleaned or mended, craft supplies and our wedding photos.

After I took down the door and puttied up the holes left behind, I started by sanding the cabinets down since they were the same glossy blond that our hall trim and closets once were.
This wood is thirsty like whoa. So it took me about four coats to get a clean, fresh white.
Once it dried, it was time to repopulate the shelves! This time, in a more organized fashion. I used three woven baskets to hide things like belts, lotion, lint rollers, craft supplies and yarn. To spruce things up, I added some picture frames and flowers.
We've got our engagement photo, the CD case that holds our wedding photos (it's actually pretty, so I figure why not display it?) and a framed used Kleenex given to Hubs and I on our wedding day (we shared it while saying our vows and bawling and my parents' friends picked it up after the service (so, one of my first acts as a married lady was to litter. Not my finest moment.) and put it in an antique frame to give us at the reception. They wrote on the back, "May all your tears be tears of joy" and used a ceremony pogram as the backing. How sweet is that?).
These gladiolas and dark leaves are from our yard. I love the DRAMA. These flowers are the bitchy diva looking hawt and knowing it of our bedroom.
The best part of this project? It was free! I used paint I already had, baskets we already had and stole all those photos from our cluttered dresser. What beats a free project that adds punch to a room?

What's been your best free project?

Monday, July 19, 2010

Flip it good

This picture, taken by Hubs on our honeymoon in Georgia, has hung on our mini-gallery wall in our hallway for the past seven months. This morning, I realized an egregious error in the photo.

Did you catch it? The photo was upside down, people. For seven months. Scores of visitors have inspected this wall as it also has some nice family photos. None have noticed or had the guts to tell me that these poor seagulls have been perched upside down for seven months. In our defense, the reflection of those two seagulls really made our flip nearly impossible to spot. Until now.
Ahhh, all is right with the world.

Saturday, July 17, 2010


Hubs had to work this weekend, so I was left to my own devices. My own devices are directing me to get cooking and then lay out in the pool until I get all lobstery red. Luckily, the CSA cooperated with my grand plans.
More zucchini, red kale, basil, chives, garlic and red gold potatoes! I'll be whipping up dinner: chive creamed corn (yes, the recipe calls for garlic chives and I'm using plain old chives. Gettin' crazy!), a fried avocado with lime sour cream, margarita calzone cupcakes and roasted zucchini with Parmesan.

Got a nice little Saturday planned?

Friday, July 16, 2010

Shelf of Patience

Ever since we moved into our house, this has been the cat toy corner. I'm pretty sure all 1950s ranches have a formal cat toy corner. This was ours. Clearly, it needed to be revamped into something more urbane than a feline drug den (catnip, people! Catnip).

Then, three months ago, I found a quirky little corner shelf on Craigslist. It had a cute shape and would be perfect for our living room - nothing a little sandpaper and glossy paint couldn't fix. But I never acted on it. The deck/patio project was in full swing and I didn't really want another project sitting around, half-finished.

After the Big Outdoor Redo was done and I resumed my Craigslist trolling ways, I was surprised to find that the shelf was still available. Its owners were from Ottumwa, but they were planning a trip to Des Moines for a wedding, so we arranged a meeting.

The couple I bought it from couldn't have been any nicer, thereby disproving my incessant fears that serial killers dangle pretty antiques on Craigslist to lure in unsuspecting young ladies who only want to refinish a chair (what? Do you not think that? Really?).

With a little love and paint, we ended up with this:

Three cheers for waiting until the right time to buy something! I painted it Stone Gray (Valspar) and there's a surprise.

Do you see it?
OK, so it doesn't photograph well. The underside of each shelf is a suuuuuupppper light turquoise. You can see it best on the underside of the top shelf. Nice, right? I love it, it's like a funky lining on a nice coat.

What's been your best Craigslist score?

inspired room

Thursday, July 15, 2010

One Thing Thursdays: Where are you going?

This here post is like, supah old in blog world, but I just found it and I think every single person ever should read it. It won't cure cancer or solve world hunger, but it will probably make you a more proactive person AND in the end, you get a hella sweet vacay. So, read away, my little pals.

PS I'm not out of places, just taking an itsy bitsy break from this OTT weekly jaunt to remind you that you, too, can spend three days shooing mice out of your hostel bed, eat roughly your own body weight in Indian food in the South Pacific, and decide that a solo romp around Spain is a grand way to spend a week or two.

PPS Didya see I'm famous? And full of cheapie tips should you decide to pack your bags and run away to Europe? No autographs, please. I almost never carry a pen.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Bravo has rendered my deck unusable

I have a slight problem. We broke our backs building a sweet new deck and patio and guess where we spend our nights:

Yep. On the couch. Watching highly evolved shows like Real Housewives of New Jersey, Top Chef and My Life on the D-List. And of course my girl Meredith on the Today show in the mornings.

Not cool. So, starting Thursday (because, um, well, Top Chef is on Wednesday nights and I just can't quit cold turkey), I'm knocking us back. No TV except for Top Chef and Mad Men once it comes back. We're going to be the couple who has coffee on our deck like everyone talks about in home-buying shows but no one ever does because it's kind of boring and annoying to hear the love of your life crunching his cereal in the still of a peaceful July morn if it kills me. Back to nature, man. Back to it. Crunching and my overly-sensitive ears be damned.

We did well dropping this nasty TV habit last summer, so I'm hopeful we can kick it again. Plus, this week is cra-azy busy as I'm gettin' my hairs did tomorrow and helping with a neighborhood party Thursday and then bidding on loads of goodness at Art Over Wine Friday. Distractions are key!

PS Who saw Real Housewives last night?

Monday, July 12, 2010


So, how's this for a good way to start the week? Our little deck project and DIY patio was featured on Remodelaholic. As in the blog which fuels my DIY fire. As in flipping awesome.Or, as Brittney said, "Squeal!"
So, if you've made your way here from there, welcome!

Signs I Might Be Crazy, Installment Five

Been a while since I brought out the nuttiness around here and frankly, I miss it. So, without further ado - the two songs I (who am a terribly nervous flier and once muttered horribly un-lady-like things at an old woman after enduring a particularly shaky and life-threatening flight from Lisbon) listen to when I need to calm down on flights.

Making sense, everyday.*

*Also my blog's motto, except replace "sense" with "cents." My day job is in no way threatened by me becoming a full-time blogger.
**When spell-checking this bad boy, Blogger said "blog's" was misspelled. Fo' realz? That's wack.

Friday, July 9, 2010

Oh, opera!

Earlier this week, Hubs and I trotted ourselves to the Des Moines Metro Opera's Susannah. It was both of our first time at the opera, so it was really exciting.

First things first, though. Q: What does a gal with a blow up pool in her back yard and a past flecked with mosh pits and neon hair dye wear to the opera?

A: The dress she wore to her bridal shower in Chicago, frilly wedges and a vintage clutch she recently picked up when going through Nana's cast offs.

Sweet, right? It's got a very snappy clasp and I think I might someday accidentally lose a phalange to it.

Anyway, once we were all preened and pretty, we set off to Indianola, about a half hour away for the show.

I had no idea what to expect as this was not only my first opera, but an English-language opera with a modern story line. Usually when I hear English operas on NPR on weekends, I don't like them, so I was a little nervous. Seeing it in person, though, was a different story. The singers' voices were amazing. I couldn't believe that actual people in the same room as me could make those noises. I was in awe the whole time. I can't wait to go back and see a more traditional opera.

Have you been to the opera? What'd you think?

Getting back to our roots

The CSA was good to us this week! Carrots, fennel, basil, yukon golds, zucchini and blue berry muffins. This picture just shows half, because by the time I got my camera out, I'd already bagged up half for our neighbor that we share our share (tee hee) with.

I'm most excited about the fennel, but we haven't decided how to use it just yet. The zucchini is a little less exciting but only because we have 11 squash plants popping off zucchinis and yellow squash at a rate of two a day. Hooray fiber.

Thursday, July 8, 2010

One Thing Thursdays: Marlborough, New Zealand

After college, I high-tailed it to the Southern Hemisphere to lead a glamorous life of working two jobs, living below the poverty level and building a tiny short-term immigrant life that involved attempting to fit in by tucking jeans into boots and spreading the Gospel of Flippy Cup to a motley crew of Kiwis.

In short, it was a great five months.

But, about two weeks before I left, I went and fell for a sophomore with no car, aka Hubs. It wasn't long before he was planning a trip to see me down in New Zealand.

Which leads me to one thing you must do in Marlborough: Take a wine tour!

Marlborough is really well known for their wines, especially Sauvignon Blanc. It's also incredibly gorgeous.

We went with a half day tour that stopped at four or five wineries. I'm not entirely sure which company we went with, but I think it was something like this one. We left from Wellington on a boat and sailed toward Picton, where the tour began.

Heading into Picton.

We shared a van with an odd little couple from Arizona who started the day off barely speaking to each other and um, let's just say the wine made them a little less shy as the day wore on. Ahem.

In between awkward van rides, we hit Allan Scott and Cloudy Bay, plus three others whose names are lost to time and that extra glass of chardonnay. One was an organic winery, which sounded amazing but didn't taste amazing at all.
Hubs and me at the organic winery. Not sure where I was heading with this fashion statement. Not my finest moment.

The best wines of the day for me were a Gew├╝rztraminer from an unknown winery and a chardonnay that tasted like melted butter from Allan Scott. Because my only problem with drinking melted butter is the lack of a buzz.

We also soaked up a lot of wine knowledge, which was fun as I'd never really done a real wine tasting before and it was amazing to get to try it for the first time in such an amazing region for wine growing.

If you have time for two things in Marlborough, get a coffee, specifically a flat white. Kiwis are serious about their caffeine and flat whites are silky little drinks that are kind of like a small, really wet espresso. In my five months barista-ing in Wellington, I can't say I mastered making them, but I can drink them like a champ.

Things I did/didn't kill

I'm not good with plants. My track record probably is well known among plants in central Iowa and all the mom plants threaten their annoying kid plants, saying that if they don't start behaving and crawl up that trellis, we're going to put you on super sale and Alexson is going to buy you and then you'll be sorry.

Plants I've killed recently:
  • One orchid, due to lack of light but not enthusiasm for spraying worm poop. April 2007-May 2007
  • Another orchid, bought with much trepidation and though the flowers all fell off and the stick that's left is getting shrively, it remains on my dresser and I'll keep watering it, just in case it wants to come back. May 2010-July 2010, but maybe not
  • One sensitive plant, purchased to soften up my kitchen sink area, currently in the same zombie regimine as Orchid Two (above). May 2010-July 2010
But, every once in a great while, I surprise myself. Case in point: These zinnias, which we started from seeds way back in March.

Lovely, right? I can't wait until they fill out a smidge more, but I'm not holding my breath, here. Clearly, I was made for having a yard full of perennials that will faithfully spring up every year no matter how I abuse them.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Home sweet new home

Going to my parents' house is a little weird now that they live in a house I've never called home, in a town that I can't find on a map and on a coast that is not shaped by the Mississippi. It's still lots of fun and being somewhere new makes it feel all the more vacation-y, but it's kind of surreal to "go home" and not have high school friends to see and cracker-crust pizza to eat.

This is where they live now. Well, this is an orchard down the road from them. Lovely, right? Maryland is super hilly and chock full of pretty scenes like this. This photo was at Brown's Orchard, where we got some delicious iced cherry bread (I know, who would have thought of that? It was just a little tart and very gooey.) and the loudest pretzels I've ever crunched. Annoying, but incredibly delicious.

We also did some family shopping, scooping up some of my Nana's nifty little trinkets and cookbooks. The highlight of it all were these three outfits: the dress she wore to my parents' wedding, an incredible 1960s 3/4 sleeve fur coat (which I'll share with my sisters. Since I live in the coldest place, I've got it this winter and it almost has me wishing for chilly nights just so I can wear it!) and the dress she wore to my uncle's wedding.  

We spent most of the weekend by the pool, shooting off wienie fireworks and eating cheese. It's not a family vacation if you don't gain seven pounds in less than 48 hours.

We also drove twenty minutes to the nearest bar where we learned that Marylanders call Natty Light "Natty Bow" AND are willing to pay $2 for them on special at a bar. Crazy East Coasters.

How was your Fourth? Learn anything?

Big shot

While I was off getting my fill of Yuengling and fresh crab in Maryland, my little deck re-do was chosen as a featured item on Bobbypins Boardwalk! How cool is that?

Thanks all you blog readers for your kind comments on our new back yard! It wasn't always pretty, but we stuck it out! And now I have a pretty deck and you have a happy blogger who is about to return to aimless writings. Lucky you.

Monday, July 5, 2010

The eagle flies at midnight

Last Thursday, Hubs and I started our journey to my parents' house in rural Maryland for a some patriotic family time. For this trip, we decided to try something new. Last visit (also, my first visit as my parents just moved out east last year after spending thirty-ish years Ma & Pa'n it up in my beloved STL), we flew from Des Moines with a lovely stop in Cleveland. Twenty minutes to the airport, a few airport beers later and prest-o change-o, we were in Maryland.

Not so this time, friends. No, we found a deal on a flight from Moline, Illinois - about three hours east of our current location. We saved about $200 total, so this all sounds very good, yes?

No. The flight was at 6:05 a.m. So, we need to be at the airport at 5:00 a.m. Seeing as how I'm a violently, seriously cheap gal, there was no way we were blowing that $200 savings on eight hours at the La Quinta by the highway. No bloomin' way.

Ergo, ip so facto, therefore and henceforth - we tucked ourselves into bed at 7:00 p.m. and set our alarms for 1:00 a.m. for a pre-dawn mosey to Moline.

Because I'm an optimist (a cheap one, but still), here are some things that would have made this trip worse:

  • A baby

  • A dog

  • A cat

  • A headache

  • A hangover (can you even be hungover at 1:00 a.m.?)

  • Static on the radio

  • A flat tire

  • Zombies

  • Listening to Prairie Home Companion the whole way

  • Something flying through the windshield and breaking all my teeth
Luckily, it was much better than that. Two nearly lifeless, shells of Hubs and I made it to the airport just in time for our flight. But, we didn't do it alone. I must thank our road food, for without peach rings and iced coffees, this whole bad idea might have been worse.

How was your long weekend?

Saturday, July 3, 2010

Tasty, ugly veggies

Our haul of veggies this week from the CSA was small but mighty: Napa cabbage, kohlrabi, chives, yukon gold potatoes and homemade blueberry muffins! In this photo, you can see our very first yellow squash from the garden, too.

This didn't last long. Chive mashed potatoes, sauteed squash and a slaw made with kohlrabi (it has a really crisp texture and mild flavor) and cabbage were our dinner last night. Delicious.

PS It didn't involve any CSA stuff, but the other day we made grilled cheese on the grill: sourdough, chevre, basil and tomatoes. OMG, y'all. So crispy and tangy and perfect. Do this now.

PPS Happy Fourth of July, I'm taking a few days off to drink something fruity with my family. Hope you have a lovely long weekend!

Friday, July 2, 2010

People of Earth, do not be afraid

A while ago, here on this blog, I declared my intentions to run a 5k sometime. I haven't been very good at practicing and I'm just now starting to run regularly. You go build a deck and a patio and work and run everyday, Mr./Ms. Big Shot. Not possible. Maybe possible if you are really organized and ambitious and if that's the case, whoopedydoodah for you.

Here is what running with me is like (if I ever ran with anyone. It's ugly so I like to keep it a solo mission):
  • Feeling good. Leading with my chest, bopping along to Lady Gaga, audibly saying hello to people I pass. Smiling.
  • (About the half way point) Struggling. Trying not to sink my weight into my rump, getting a tad annoyed at Lady Gaga, smiling at people I pass. Light to moderate ladylike glow going on.
  • (Three quarters of the way) Dragging buns. Huffing, puffing. Breathing loudly at people I pass in what should be a "hi" but comes off as nearing some kind of harassment.
  • (Home, done) My favorite part. Glowing like a lady of the night in church. Exaggerating my condition loudly to Hubs, the cat, the turtle - anyone who will listen. Flopping on the floor like a dying fish, being a huge wienie.
It will be a miracle if I can lock down these quirks before I run a 5k. this socially acceptable? Maybe this is just how people run and I just wouldn't know because I don't hang with runners.

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Clean hands are happy hands

We get a little soaphappy this time of year. It's the feakybigsale at Bath and Body Works. Soap never spoils and I'm a cheap gal. You do the math.

One Thing Thursdays: Chicago

I love Chicago. The neighborhoods and public transportation just make me all giddy. Now, let's remember that I'm from St. Louis, so saying I love our neighbors to the north, harborers of those stinkin' Cubs, is pretty bold. But, I just don't think you can compare the two. Overall, STL wins, hands down. But, if we're talking about the city proper only, well, I've got to hand it to Chicago.

One thing to do in Chicago? Eat. Anything and everything.

Food I like in Chicago:
  • Portillo's hot dogs with their cute poppyseed buns and snappy little pickles, how could you say no?
  • Deep dish. I'm partial to Giordano's, but really anything that involves spicy sausage swimming in melty cheese is A-OK in my book.
  • Specialty stores. We just don't have enough in Des Moines. Near Hubs' parents' house is a highly nifty Italian shop wherein I could probably spend an entire paycheck on cheese, salumi and olive oil.
  • Taste of Chicago is still going on this weekend and I'll never forget one ear of corn I had there two years ago. For starters, it got points for being organic and roasted in the husk (steam = extra yum in my book). The stand had a huge vat of melted butter (!) and the guy dunked the corn right into it. Then, he asked if I wanted it spicy and I obviously said yes, so he piled on chipotle salt. Heaven. Heaven on Earth dipped in butter, covered in spice.
Sometimes, eating isn't pretty.
  • This Italian restaurant downtown stole my heart. Mostly because it had bathrooms straight out of the 1920s with white subway tiles and little dispensers of Borax for your hands. Precious. Also, delicious. Hubs and I went with his family for lunch once and I vowed to return someday when I'm not wearing skinny jeans. The menu has lots of little things perfect for sharing, which I love and Hubs hates (it's not this bad, but it's close).
  • I've never been here, but I will someday. And Rick Bayless will live up to the hype, I just know it.
If you have time for two things: You'll probably need a nap after all that food. Or, you could see that bean in the park. I know it's touristy, but that bean is cool.


Chicago, speak up. I only visit the city once or twice a year, so I know I'm missing some good stuff.
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