31 January 2014

This Weekend


Groovy weekend tunes from Camera Obscura

Ahhhhh the weekend is here, we made it through the Polar Vortex 2.0, everyone is feeling very "I'm A Survivor", fantastic. It's so strange to feel like we are in the midst of a heat wave with the weather being a high of 36 tomorrow! But I'll take it. This weekend is going to consist of tackling some more projects on my massive to-do, as well as catching up on some of the movies from Andrew and I's giant "movies spreadsheet". Yes, we have a spreadsheet, and yes, it's one of many.

Here's what's on the roster:
- Stretching a canvas / beginning to prep it with gesso
- Watching Nebraska and Stories We Tell
- Submitting a series of very important documents into the Universe... waiting for the hands of fate
- Superbowl / Puppy bowl / dips / chips / and chili

30 January 2014

Ballz (Matzoh Balls)


My lovely roommate Nick, making things happen with kale. It's just how he rolls.

Last night some neighborhood friends and I met for an impromptu soup making soiree. The final product was something special, something to be reckoned with. I'm mainly blogging about it as a method for jotting down everything that went into the amazing vegetable broth so that we can recreate it over and over again.

Ingredients
2 boxes Trader Joe's Vegetarian broth
1 Handful of chopped fresh dill (we also put the stems in)
1-2 bay leaves
2-3 carrots, chopped
2-3 celery stalks, chopped
1 onion, chopped
1-2 cubes of Goya Sazon
A few drops of liquid aminos
A splash of white wine (if ya have it open)
Lemon juice from 1 lemon
Half of the lemon rind
Nutritional yeast, to taste
Salt and pepper, to taste

Directions
  1. Saute the onion, garlic, carrots until soft (but not too soft). 
  2. Add in the broth, bring to a boil, then lower to a simmer. 
  3. Add in the rest of the ingredients, continually taste with a spoon, and season accordingly.
  4. Fish out the lemon rind, bay leaf, and dill stems. 
  5. Add in the matzoh balls, let them cook through until they are swollen and floating.
  6. Eat to your heart's content.
The Matzoh balls were from a box (no shame), and were pretty easy to throw together. I'm hoping to recreate this delicious broth, bag it up, and freeze it for future delicious soup snacking.

28 January 2014

I'm A Hot (Coffee) Mess

After feeling like I can have it all in yesterday's post, my haste to celebrate was trumped by a loss to coffee. That's right, Coffee:1. Sandy: 0. I'm going to blame it mostly on myself, and partly on the Polar Vortex 2.0 (go away you are not welcome here). But here's the where the real damage lies:


One coffee soaked journal, and one coffee soaked book (that I was really enjoying!). 

I arrived to work this morning feeling all "Take that Polar Vortex!" wanting to throw punches into the air, sip my coffee, and dig into my oatmeal, only to discover that my bag was full of semi-liquid / semi-frozen, coffee, and that I am truly a clumsy idiot. Re: I spill cupcake batter onto oven doors, and bruise easily.

The moral of my story is, don't put a thermos full of hot coffee into your messenger bag unless it is completely sealed. Or better, yet, don't do it at all. A confession: this is the second time I have done this, and it look me leaking all over myself in public twice to realize that maybe I shouldn't be transporting liquids ever. Lesson learning aside, after ordering a new (used) copy of this, ahem, borrowed book, I am on the market for a new notebook / journal / diary / confessional time capsule. Do you have any recommendations for me? This one was a big Moleskine notebook, but I'd like to see what else is out there, just gotta have something for jotting, drawing, and gluing random quotes / obituaries in.

Thanks for your morale support, you're welcome for the laughs.

27 January 2014

Containing Myself

This weekend was one of those weekends that was simultaneously lazy and hyper-productive. I was able to practice the art of saying "No" on Friday night when I opted to stay in and catch up with my sister and manufacture some serious Z's. After all, Saturday was to involve baking two dozen cupcakes from scratch, eating tacos, going to the Container Store and Blick for all sorts of "life-enhancing" supplies, and a birthday bash.

Truth: Saturday was super nice but from the second I finished brunch, I felt stressed! I was on the move from noon until noon again running errands, baking, and cleaning, that in my frenzied state two super funny things happened. I share them, to prove that my life on my blog, as tailored and perfect as it may seem, is actually full of clumsy embarrassing moments of stupidity on my part.

Saturday, I went to Blick to buy stretcher bars, canvas, and paint, cuz I can't be Picasso Gentileschi without art supplies. I grabbed my wooden bars, put them in my canvas bag at checkout, then mozied over to the Container Store in search of my much-needed coat tree. I found the box, which was taller than I was, and as I made my way to the register, proceeded to bump into every person and container in my path. I looked like an idiot, and knew right then that I would not be walking a half mile to the bus, then riding the bus with a giant Sandy-sized box in tow. Container Store: 1. Sandy: 0.

When I got home, I went into full-on baking mode with the objective to make 24 chocolate cupcakes for my best bud from college. Things were going smoothly, I managed to not eat all of the cake batter before putting it into the cupcake tins. I opened the oven slowly, glad it was the correct temperature, ready to have my house smell amazing. When, BOOM! I drop the cupcakes face down onto the hot oven door. Gooey sticky chocolaty chaos ensued. Cleaning it up was an absolute disaster, my cupcakes were beyond repair, and I had to think of something quickly. I wound up baking a layer cake and making MORE batter, it was all fine, and the cake was adored by all. But, Cupcakes: 1. Sandy: 0.

Yesterday I managed to sleep late, buy scented candles, eat hot wings, go shopping at the Container Store (again), build my coat tree (pictured below), carve out some counter space, get laundry done, and make kale pesto lunch because I have as many hours in a day as Beyonce I give myself. All in all, even though I made a gigantic mess of the kitchen and I looked like an idiot in public multiple times, I kept going like Rocky training montages, and made my weekend happen right. I'm feeling like I can take this week by storm, and it feels so effing good.

Before I got this tall spice rack, we had even less counter space. 
I am willing to challenge my kitchen to a storage duel, and win. 


Oh haiiiii coat tree. You look so good with my coat on you.


Unf, chicken cutlets, kate pesto, all of it. Yum.

24 January 2014

This Weekend

My goal for this weekend is to decompress. It's the first weekend since... July that I'm not studying for the GRE or prepping for my grad school application, which means I'm going to be productive and relax a little bit! I made a gigantic (seriously, massive) list of things I'd like to accomplish in the next few weeks/months and I think if I chip away at it little by little, the list will get done. To ring in the weekend, here's my favorite thing on the Internet today! All of Linda Belcher's "Alrights." Pretty sure this video was made to make me insanely happy.


- Tonight, I'm making this tortilla soup with new friends
- Going to the Container Store to purchase this coat tree
- Going to Blick to purchase the goods to stretch a canvas and begin my first painting in years!
- Finally going to install some plastic on our windows
- Baking these cupcakes for a friend's birthday (because he deserves Martha Stewart cupcakes)
- Yoga / stretches / something of the sort
- Laundry, all of the laundry
- Girls on Sunday!

16 January 2014

This Weekend

I will be leaving for Southern California in a few short hours, and I am SO excited. Andrew and I have quite a weekend planned, four nights, three cities, beer, comedy, art, sunshine. I just want to be there already! Here's what's on the roster for us:


- Brunch at the Hide Away Cafe
- Brewery tour of San Diego: Ballast Point, Stone Brewing Co., Lost Abbey/Port Brewing, Aztec Brewing Company
- Burgers, shakes, and animal style fries at In-N-Out Burger
- Driving to Costa Mesa for a relaxing evening with friends
- Brunch and touristy things with Nora and her boo
- James Turrell: A Retrospective at LACMA
- Tracking down the Kogi BBQ food truck
- Grauman's Chinese Theatre
- Browsing at Amoeba records
- Curing our homesickness at Pink's Hot Dogs
- Nice lil sushi dinner date at Katsuya
- Shut Up! I Hate You! at UCB Theater
- Late night chicken & waffles at Roscoe's


Clearly we have is ALL planned out. I am so freaking excited, it's in the 70's and 80's in So Cal. I will be enjoying the outdoors, I've packed sandals, and shorts, and little dresses, and my Ray Ban sunglasses. We have podcasts, a book of crosswords, and our credit cards ready for all the airplane drinks we will be consuming.
Via Late Night with Jimmy Fallon
Bon Voyage!

14 January 2014

Top Six Picks: December 2013

ONE

Spike Jones' Her
Was it the best movie I saw of 2013? Naw. But was it one of my favorites? Absolutely. This film took a look at the redefinition of non-traditional relationships. This is the story of meeting people online taken to the next level as Theodore, lovingly played by Joaquin Phoenix, begins to date his OS (operating system). Watching this "couple" fall in love, and the creative ways in which they make dating possible is cleverly brought to life from the strange and whimsical brain of Spike Jones (all hail Spike). I didn't love the ending (felt a little cop-outy), but I thought the quiet moments were profoundly quiet, Chris Pratt was a goof, the attention to architecture and interior design was perfection. Also, can we please bring high waisted pants to the forefront of fashion? Also, this movie was funny. Like made me laugh hard, funny. Do yourself a favor, go see it! Laugh, drool over LA of the future, then come home, unplug, and squeeze the ones you love the most, because you can.


TWO

Dark Horse Brewing Co.
Andrew and I visited Dark Horse over our Christmas break, and loved every second of it. Good beer, mugs everywhere, no bullshit vibe. If you are on that side of Michigan, role into Dark Horse, try a blueberry stout, and fantasize about moving to Michigan because beaches, beer, and blueberries.


THREE

Newly/Annual Jewish Christmas Tradition
2013 marks the second year that I have gone to Chinatown for Christmas, and I think two years in a row makes for tradition status. Last year we went for Dim Sum brunch, this year we did dinner. My only suggestion for this is to make reservations, and don't go too hungry, because food takes some time to hit your table. But Chinese food and bottles of Tsing Tao are the official palate cleanser from candy canes, gravy, ham, and whatever heavy American holiday food we've been eating for weeks on end.
2012 Reppin' pork buns at Ming hing
2013 drinking Asia brews and waiting on dinner

FOUR

Sarah Silverman's Bedwetter
Loved this book, no further words. Just read my earlier review, and then read the damn book.


FIVE

Who Charted podcast
Hellooooooooooo Kulap!!!! I am your KuKu and this is your WeeWee. Chart Exclusive: Andrew has turned me on to the beauty of podcasts, because beyond my weekly This American Life sesh, I didn't really get the point of them? This from the girl who doesn't understand how to use Hulu, and who recently discovered Spotify. Who Charted is a podcast of two friends who are both complete weirdos (I see you Howard Kremer) talking about movie and music charts, while somehow integrating stories about their day-to-day lives. I know it doesn't sound like it makes a lot of sense, but I seriously jump for joy the moment a new episode airs.



SIX

Hamilton Beach personal blender
I was gifted this single-size blender for Chrismukkah, and I am obsessed with it. I've already made dressing, and a variety of disgusting-Exorcist-vomit-colored delicious kale smoothies. This thing is compact, easy to clean, and easy to use to the point where I am actually eating more fruits and veggies. If you're on the market for a blender but don't want to commit to something massive/expensive, get one of these.



10 January 2014

You Know What I Love About Cooking?

“You know what I love about cooking? … I love that after a day when nothing is sure—and when I say ‘nothing’ I mean nothing!—you can come home and absolutely know that if you add eggs yolks to chocolate and sugar and milk, it will get thick. It’s such a comfort.” - Julie Powell, in Julie and Julia



I've been feeling stressed, blue, and gross about all sorts of things (RE: a heavy night of drinking on Saturday, work things, The Polar Vortex, working a full work week, need I go on..?), so in an effort to reverse my WTF-Universe attitude, I decided to pull a Julie Powell (or inner-Tess) and bake. Bake my little heart into a double batch of mama's special mint chocolate chip cookies. I softened the butter, I fluffed and churned it in my beautiful standing mixer, and slowly added each ingredient until my batter was temptingly lickable. I rolled up my sleeves, and hand laid my cookies out on parchment paper, and waited with anticipation as my entire kitchen filled with the scent of delicious perfect mint chocolate chippy goodness. And then I ate. I ate cookies fresh out of the oven, because this week these past few weeks, have been nothing short of funky. And when the cookies cooled, I carefully packed them up to bring to work, because as a wise man once said, "if you can't beat 'em, join 'em," or "kill 'em with kindness," or "everyone likes cookies."

My delicious morsels, fresh outta the oven via Ladeeq
I find that lately, I've been happiest when I am cooking. Doesn't matter if I'm making soup, roasting a chicken, baking bread, or hard boiling an egg. Cooking for me has been my main source of creative output, and I think I am slowly getting better at it (props to the knife skills class I took!). I like that I can follow directions, take my time, and usually what I end up with is something amazing, fulfilling, and made for me by me. I like that the years I spent slowly learning to cook have left me with the ability to sight-read recipes and know if they will be good or not, and the courage to substitute ingredients or measure without a measuring device because I trust my instinct.

All of this for me is something I am trying to embrace in the next phase of my life. I want to be better at cooking, like way better. I want to embrace the more challenging or difficult recipes out there. I want to track down some weird ingredients, get my knives sharpened, stalk weird utensils (waddup microplane and flour sifter), and be the best possible kitchen me I know exists.

Hopefully I'll be posting some of my exploits here... take my mint chocolate chip cookies recipe as a token of my offering.

Happy Friday, and happy cookies!

08 January 2014

"You Have the Same Amount of Hours In A Day as Beyonce" - Sweaty Wisdom

Via Sweaty Wisdom

Lately, I've found myself muttering these words every morning in the shower. Bleary eyed, figuring out how I am going to tackle the day (thanks dark, freezing, Midwestern mornings, you're a peach). I keep thinking "there's just not enough time" - not enough time to work out, maintain/sustain friendships, finish books, blog, cook meaningful meals, unwind, visit all of the exhibitions currently on display, write my grad school essay... the list, oh the never ending beast of a list, it goes on.

But Chris of Sweaty Wisdom fiercely penned the above sentence, and it has become my mantra. I have the same amount of hours in a day as Beyonce. I have 24 hours to do what I will with them, and I should not squander them away. If I want to paint or doodle, I can find the hours or minutes to paint or doodle. If I want to try that new recipe, I can find the time to make that new recipe. If I am feeling crabby because I no longer have time to have breakfast in the morning, I can wake up fifteen minutes early and make myself a smoothie, so thick and full of kale and carrots, that I have to eat it with a spoon. 

The time is out there, I just need to give it to myself. I don't need to let my Netflix autoplay that next episode of Breaking Bad (... but it's SO good), and I don't need to hit snooze over and over again in the morning. I don't need to sleep in every weekend, and I don't need to spend every lunch break glued to my work computer. Finding the time for myself is going to be one of the things that frees me from this numbing day-to-day "What is my life?" and "Does my life have meaning?" menacing feeling that has been on my back for weeks months. I'm going to teach myself to budget my time, every single day until I find the fulfillment and satisfaction I know I deserve. 

*As a side note, the lovely Chris of the aforementioned Sweaty Wisdom is an amazing and inspiring lady. She started her own business, born of mantras and meditations she penned after especially inspirational yoga sessions, hence the name Sweaty Wisdom. You can find more of her badass mantras and even some beautifully designed inspirational mugs and decor on her Etsy. Like why wouldn't you want this hanging in your bedroom to greet you on the daily?

07 January 2014

I Don't Paint Anymore

Allie painting in her blankie via FanPop
You know that scene in The Notebook where Allie says to her fiance (not RyGo) "I don't paint anymore" and to him, it's like, what's the big idea? But to her, it's a huge problem? I'm totally having one of those life revelations where I realize that I am a creative person who has had zero creative output since I graduated college, and as of today, my skin is crawling. I take pictures (albeit with my phone mainly), and I blog sometimes. I cook a lot, and that has some creative output. Put I don't paint anymore. I don't make little Rookie headbands, or doodle, or write letters, or brainstorm my next projects. I bookmark things to DIY, but seldom DIY at all. And I think I am driving myself crazy very very slowly.

When Allie runs away from "not RyGo," she runs away in part because she isn't painting anymore. Because she has stopped being a part of herself that she knows to be true and whole. She runs away from her other self, to a version of herself that is free, and paints trees in nothing but a blanket, in a studio space that was built for her just by RyGo. God damn, do people get why I love The Notebook?

So here's what I'm getting at. I used to paint. I used to do performing arts. I used to keep my camera in my bag every single day. I used to doodle trees and watercolor portraits of my friends. I used to draw pastel sunsets and insist on carrying colored pens in my purse at all times. I am stifled, but really, stifling myself. I keep hoping that some RyGo (RyGo being a metaphor) will come along and give me a studio full of paints, and the time and space to sit around in nothing but a blanket painting trees and making me breakfast. But the truth of it is - I need to be my own RyGo. I need to make my space, find my time, and stop saying "I used to paint" or "I used to be a photographer" or "I wanted to be an actress". I just need to start making instead of making excuses.

So enough of this "I don't paint anymore" bull. It's time for me to stop wishing and start doing. Even if I start small, with sketching or doodling or painting reproductions, I just need to make it happen, and I need it to happen now, because Corporate America 9-5's (ahem, 8:30-5:30's) are sucking the creativity out of me.

Dropping the Mic via College Humor

06 January 2014

Chiberia

Well today is cold, I mean very cold. It's -45 with the windchill, and a lot of people are off from work. But I suited up, trudged my way through snow and ice, and made it into work today because I'm a survivor, and brownie points (take that Corporate America!). On my top half, I wore four layers, on my bottom, two. It does feel cold, like Day After Tomorrow, frozen snot, hurts to breathe cold. But there's something really awesome about knowing I walked a mile in this weather, and will be doing it again tonight. Do I wish I was at home watching movies and throwing boiling pots of water into the air? Yeah, I do. But also, I got to ride the train with a car full of survivors, who put their warmest gear on and weathered the storm. Chicago, you are a weird place, especially on days like today, though -15 still looks alright on you.

As a gum drop to get me through today, I am planning on making tacos for dinner. I mean a taco fiesta, with a whole taco bar of things to top my tacos with. Andrew and I are going to eat as many tacos as humanly possible, while planting ourselves in front of another movie on our massive to-watch list. I can almost taste the avocado now...

The river was warmer than the air, so it was steaming. 

04 January 2014

Put Things Into Perspective


So I'm reading this book that Andrew gave me for Chrismukkah. It's a Holocaust book, written by a survivor of Auschwitz, and all I can say is that 1) I can't put it down, and 2) this book is really helping me to put things into perspective. In today's reading session, I found out that Viktor only had one pair of shoes. One pair of shoes to work in, walk in, live in. No socks. Just a pair of leather shoes, that had to weather snow, mud, cold, the elements. And here I am, Miss two-pairs-of-Hunter boots, one pair of Uggs, and all of my "fashion boots". I am fortunate, I am not in need. This book is very good and very serious. It is truthful and helpful. I think everyone should read it.

03 January 2014

Workaholics GIFs

Because it's Friday, and it's been "a week" if you know what I'm sayin' please bask in these GIFs as we collectively say TGIF.



On Giving and Getting


On Monday, in the midst of a particularly stressful workday, I was invited to go to the Bulls game on the dime of a friend. Free tickets, club level, to a sweet sporting event. Obviously, I said yes. The generosity and kindness of this person to offer me a gumdrop after an unrelenting day in the office, and a particularly unrelenting week weather-wise (oh hay zero degree weather), I was dumbfounded and completely grateful. To top it off, he was unable to make it to the game, and I was encouraged to bring friends. Gum drops for all!

Prior to the game, my office closed a bit early due to a turn in the weather. As I suited up to go outside, I coudln't believe my luck. Free tickets to the Bulls game, an early dismissal from work, pretty snowflakes!!! I left work, took the pedway to Clark and Lake, and upon my arrival at the station, a woman approached me asking to use my phone. I normally would have apologetically declined, but something about the storm, my good fortune, the new year, and her need made me want to help her in some way. She was looking for a place to sleep for the night, had just been released from the hospital, had no debit card, the whole nine yards. My heart went out to her so strongly, that I wound up going to the ATM to help her out with Metra fare to the suburbs. I didn't know her name, only that she was having a seriously difficult week, and I was in a place to help her. Through kindness, patience, and a little monetary help, I hope she found her way to a safe and warm bed.

My reflection on all of this is that I went to the game for free, on the kindness of a generous friend, and in turn was able to pass my kindness on to a stranger. All of this full-circle-universe-ness of my evening last night made me want to do more. You know, go do good? So on that note, if you know of any volunteer work that needs to be done, let me know! I want to get more involved with everything ever. The world is a community, Chicago is a community, people are a community. Let's fix things one step at a time.

Also, on a side note - my local grocery store is closing its doors this weekend for a restaurant next door to it to expand. I've already written my alderman citing that this is a huge loss for the neighborhood, and will be creating a gap in affordable food retail options (near public transit / centrally located). If you feel as passionately as I do about the California Produce Market closing, please contact Joe Moreno

02 January 2014

Books I Read // Bedwetter: Stories of Courage, Redemption, and Pee


I'm going through a "phase" where I am reading memoirs written by comedic women. Maybe it's part of an overarching effort to add humor to my life, or maybe I am just looking for a role model of sorts. But man, Bedwetter: Stories of Courage, Redemption, and Pee was exactly what I needed to read when I read it. A confession: I have not been on the Sarah Silverman bandwagon until very recently. I never really found her funny, in fact, I found her gross and strange and irritating, and for some reason it really bothered me that she would joke about her own Jewishness. But then I watched her recent HBO special, and something clicked. She is smart, and witty. She knows what she is doing. She is a hardworking woman, with plenty to say, and a creative vision that I am just now learning to appreciate. I am a Sarah Silverman convert - and I owe it to this book.

To start, Bedwetter is incredibly well-written. Additionally, it is well-edited. The book felt concise and organized, to the point where I didn't want it to end. It moves in pretty chronological order, and offers insights into Silverman's struggle with depression (woop therapy for all!), as well as how she started her career as a comedian at age 19 in New York. I like that I can read this book and be inspired by how hard she worked to get where she is today. But also, the girl has major cojones. She speaks her mind, stands her ground, but does it so gosh damn articulately, that it just works. In short, she tends to get what she wants, because she knows what she wants and is willing to work (and fight) for it.

The book is not only full of funny stories and strange confessions, but filled with email conversations between her and her editor, and letters between her writing/production team on the Sarah Silverman Program and her bosses at Comedy Central that display wit, humor, a sense of self, a voice, and a fight from within her that is so fierce, it just made me want to put the book down to start saying YES to the things that need to be "yes-ed" and NO to all of the things that need to be "NO-ed".

If anything, this book made me want to be my best possible self, and to move through the world with wonder and grace, while still finding poop and fart humor funny. I know it's within me!

For more on my new-girl-crush Sarah, listen to her in conversation on By the Way and the JV Club. Girl can preach!

01 January 2014

2014 Goals

I'm toying with the idea of having this goals list printed and framed to hang in my bedroom. It's comprised of fairly basic things, but I think these little things will have a major impact on my life in the long run. What are your goals for the year?

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