Friday, October 29, 2010

Book End Day

No photo with this post, sorry.

Today my day ended just as it started. There were plenty of other things in between, but how it started and especially how it ended are what have brought a huge smile to my face.

I know I've said it before and I'll say it again, but I love public transportation. I always wanted to live in a city where our car could stay by the curb. On days like today, I think about all together selling the car. [I won't, fear not. Barbie still does get her use.]

Here's the breakdown of my book end day.
+ Arrive a station and be handed political propaganda. No surprise. The surprise was it was the freaking candidate handing out his postcard and he didn't as much as say good morning or make eye contact. I immediately forgot his name. Not impressed.
+ Business as usual. The ride to work was uneventful. I almost finished the crossword puzzle.

+ For the first leg of my trip I sit next to a clown. Yes, a clown. White face paint, red nose, wig. The whole kit & kaboodle. I was amused. Guess seeing a clown days before Halloween isn't that big of a surprise. At any rate, it just seemed early in the day for being in a costume.
+ The middle leg of my trip I sit next to 4 teenage girls. Also dressed up, but more like they are going to a very risque club, not to a costume party. These teens were downright obnoxious. Talking about drugs, sex, alcohol, you name it. Not to mention loud enough for the whole car to hear. I made a point to smile frequently at the grandpa sitting next to them. I bet he was hoping his grandkids don't talk and act that way. As was I...
+ Last leg of my trip there is a man getting his grove on in the station. Dancing away, happy as a clam. He told me he was planning to stay in this weekend, too dangerous to be outside with all the crazies for Halloween. This guy really made me laugh. I often think about breaking out in spontaneous dance or song when waiting for a train. Sometimes, depending on what is on my mp3 player, it is a challenge not to.
+ And here's for the book end. As I ride off to la casa, who is out on the political circuit? None other than Alexi Giannoulias.

Yeah, that was long-winded. I guess all my travels today on the train just remind me to keep my eyes open. You can always find something to lift your spirits & make you think. You can also always find someone to make you smile or want to slap them into adulthood. You just have to look for it.

Happy Weekend, at last!

Thursday, October 28, 2010



A swing is a swing, right? Whether it's a swing and a miss or an ace in the hole, it's still a swing.

Taking a swing means you at least step up to the plate.

I've never been much of a golfer. Always wanted to learn and always got frustrated by how slow my results were. Golfing for me was always a swing and a miss. Eventually I am able to connect, but I think all the years I spent playing baseball really messed up my form (or in this case: severe lack of form). Plus once I do connect, I always feel like I could have picked the ball up and thrown it further. *sigh

Maybe it's a past time I will pick up again sometime soon. Now if only I had time to take lessons and winter wasn't as it seems days upon us.

Here's to at least taking a swing. Cheers!

Tuesday, October 26, 2010


It's not that I haven't been wanting to put the apron on and bake lately, it's just that I haven't made time for it. My free time has been limited and rather than spend this time on baking, I've been doing more cleaning, organizing and reading.

I wanted to bake something with a fall theme, but while still being relatively healthy. This is why I decided to make: dark chocolate maple & brown sugar oatmeal cookies. In case you were wondering, oatmeal is what make these cookies healthy. :) I have a loose scale for defining healthy.

It smells absolutely delightful on our apartment right now. Sweet and spicy. These cookies will be perfect when coupled with apple cider.

Without further ado, here's the recipe:

1 c packed brown sugar
1/2 c sugar
1 t baking powder
1/4 t baking powder
3/4 c softened butter
2 eggs
1-1/2 c flour
1 t vanilla
2 c oatmeal
chocolate chips to taste

Bake at 375 for 8-10 minutes until golden brown.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Oriental Amber

OG 1.052

It's 10:30a.m. on Sunday morning and this has been our morning agenda:
  • Brew coffee, drink coffee.
  • Eat breakfast.
  • Sanitize beer equipment.
  • Wash dishes.
  • Clean kitchen.
  • Begin brewing process.
  • Scan photos.
  • Listen to NPR.
  • Brew.
  • Clean kitchen.
  • Wash floors.
It has been a busy morning. We woke up this morning on the creative side of the bed. (Beer translation: Instead of following a recipe book or using a kit, we decided to make our own experimental amber ale.)

We have loads of tea and have enjoyed adding it to our brews. (Past batches have included: hibiscus green tea wheat, sangria tea ale & white tea steam). Today we decided to go with an oriental tea straight from the non-homelands of Germany (Rotbuschtee Orientalische).

Without further ado here is the recipe. (Please note: This is an experimental amber, and while we are confident it will turn out delicious, we aren't making any promises :)).

1 lb. crystal medium
6.6 lb. amber malt extract
.5 ga. Rotbuschtee Orientalische tea (steep apart from wort until very strong & add with boiling hops)
1 lb. honey (add with finishing hops)
1 oz. amarillo hops (boiling)
1 oz. cascade hops (finishing)
1056 American ale liquid yeast (Wyeast)
OG: 1.052

Do let us know if you have any questions. We'll be sure to post our review of the final product in the months to come.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Archival Discovery

Grand with State

I love taking walks down memory lane. Looking back at old photographs and reminiscing about the good old days (and the good now days). This photo was a great, as per the tile, archival discovery. Pm was looking through some of our older photos from Chicago and found this goodie. It was taken just about this time last year.

A year ago when he was here and I was still in Michigan. He jokes that this was when he was living on the streets with a sleeping bag. Truth be told, not true. He was being fed and housed just fine without me being around. I think he just missed me. :)

I was looking at a couple of very old photos last night; let's rewind back to elementary school when a dear pal of mine and I decide to dress up as old ladies for Halloween. Looking at those photos made me think about the whereabouts of a shoebox I have of all my photos. I know this shoebox is at my parents house, I am just not sure where. Next time I am home I will have to see if I can locate it. I am sure it is chock full of other good photos - from Halloweens past and beyond. Probably even includes some awkward high school dances and sporting team photos. Maybe it's best to wait... ;)

This brings me to the point of my post [and I better hurry before pm finishes off the last 90 Minute IPA -- I love you Dogfish Head -- we just poured]. I feel like when I was younger I did a much better job of documenting key experiences. This is not to say that I don't take photos of events and everything today, but it's different. Now instead of having hard-copy photos in albums (or shoeboxes) we have them saved on CDs, DVDs or on our computers. Face it: How often do you look through your digital archives?

I am an old soul. Always have been, always will be. I used to think it was a curse, but now I think it's a blessing. [Note to self: Theme for another blog post]

I still take film photos. We still put photos into albums and make prints of photos we like. I feel like this is no longer the norm, and it makes it increasingly harder to find great archival discoveries like the one that we found today.

Is there a quick fix to this? Yes and no, all depending on how much time and effort you want to put into it. Our (as in the ampm) quick fix is to take both digital and film photos. We try to weed through all the photo duds (ironically most tend to be with digital) and either upload them to Flickr or share them through Picasa albums. The ones we really like make it to the fridge, walls and postcards.

Do you have any tricks of the trade with your photos?

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

On the road again

On the road again

...On the road again
Goin' places that I've never been.
Seein' things that I may never see again
And I can't wait to get on the road again....

- Willie Nelson, On the road again

Monday, October 18, 2010

Things I love.

Mars Cheese Castle

There are a handful of food items that I could absolutely not live without. Cheese is one them. (As is, in case you didn't already pick up on it: chocolate, ice cream, tomatoes, food & food...etc.). So why my love for cheese?

Well I would be remissed if I did not qualify this post. I am a Wisconsinite. Not born and raised, but raised. I used to only have experience with a few select varieties of cheese - american, swiss, colby, mozzarella, cheddar (hey, not bad!), but as I have grown so has my taste. Part of this may have been influenced by my jaunt to Espana and trying the many delightful ranks of aged cheeses. Of course, when paired with a good wine - how could I resist.

I truly think my *love for queso came from a trip to the zoo. I actually think it was the Brookfield zoo and there was an exhibit on how milk was made. The presentation at this exhibit talked about how cheese was made. I was probably all of 5-6 years old and was fascinated. So fascinated in fact, that my mom, younger brothers, aunt and cousins kept walking around and left me behind. I got lost (for the the first and only time I ever remember) over cheese & dairy products. How fitting, I guess. Needless to say, I was found.

To this day, one of the first things I scour the fridge for is cheese when I want a snack. Cheese & crackers are a staple. Usually though it's not just cheese & crackers; it becomes that paired with olives, vegetables, humus, cold cuts.... etc. Anyway, hope I made my point. I love cheese.

Plus, it's how we Americans encourage smiles in photos. Here's to c-h-e-e-s-e!

Totally unrelated, but still related: I have yet to enter into Mars Cheese. pm took this shot. This past summer the heat got the best of me multiple times. This particular day was the first of three mild heat strokes. blah.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

step up.

step up

Community. It's been a topic that has been on my mind a lot lately. What is it? How do you get involved in one? Where can you find one?

I am nearing by first year in the Windy City, and pm is just days away from being here for a year. While arguably we haven't completed rooted ourselves in this city, we have tried to partake in as much as we can in our neighborhood. We frequent the local shops, restaurants and bars and always try to take visitors to places close to home. We're building our own community from scratch.

Building a community from scratch isn't always easy. I've come to find that sometimes community finds you. Today on my way home on the EL, I really felt like part of the "Chicago community." Unlike during the summer months, with school back in session, my commute to and from work is packed to the gills. I'm lucky to have (thus far) always gotten a seat on the way to work; on my way home I always get a seat until I switch lines.

Most days it's an annoyance to have no room to move around when standing between stops. The driver slams on the breaks and you slam into everyone around you. Today was no different in that sense. The people were different though. The people in my' standing corner' actually conversed with each other. Real words. Real conversations. Okay, not about anything deep, but still.

This to me is community. Talking to your neighbors. Sharing in similar life experiences. Acknowledging those around you. I'm glad community found me today.

Monday, October 11, 2010

needed: more sunshine

Double sunset

The weekend was the perfect double dose of sunshine ... just like this double-exposure holga I took back in July.

There are a few things I always have to come to term with around this time of year.
1. It is going to start getting colder.
2. Green is going to be harder to come by in the great outdoors.
3. There is going to be less light during the day.

I haven't come up with plans to remedy all of the above, but I can at least start prepping myself for the month that lie ahead. Here's my plan thus far:

Remedy #1:
Put away summer clothes and bring out the hats, mittens and down coats. Look for bargains on sweaters and other winter gear. Until then, pm has a wonderful collection of over-sized sweatshirts. This is the best remedy of all, both for the pocket book and comfort.

Remedy #2:
Buy plants on sale and keep them alive and thriving during the winter months. We just bought a new jade plant. I am so incredibly excited by this, partly because we lost 3 jade plants just a month or two ago. I am determined to keep this new plant alive. I will not over water you, little jade; I will not over water you, little jade.

Remedy #3:
Get as many rays as you can now before it's too late. We're making a point to go for a walk right when we get home from work before it turns dark. We may also be investing in a winter "happy lamp" this year. We'll see just how glum it turns out to be this winter, before I commit.

What are your pre-winter remedies?

Sunday, October 10, 2010


Since we don't have any #10s in the archives to celebrate 10.10.10, I thought I'd at least post some numbers. Plus, I happen to like how these digits look. It isn't every day that you see staples on light posts. This must be because it seems like these days most light posts are metal, not wood.

All in all, it's just another day. Not one that we'll look back from years from now and be able to remember the course of events (even if they were grand :)). Suppose if we would have gone to a wedding, been born or ran the Chicago Marathon today it would have been a day to remember always. Days are days. They come and they go. Even if they look cool in print - 10.10.10.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Black & White

Lake Michigan

...The road is long
the memory slides
to the whole of my undoing
put aside
I put away
I push it back to get through each day
and all I feel is black and white
and I'm wound up small and tight
and I don't know who I am ...
~Sarah McLachlan, Black & White

It's a black & white kind of day. Not sure why, but it is.

We took this photo this summer on a camping trip. You can hardly tell from the photo what time of year it is. Maybe that's one reason why I like black and white photos so much -- there is a real timeless quality to them. One that you don't always get with color.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

spanish delight: empanada

empanada :)

Yesterday I had an awful day. Between being rained on during the day on Saturday and having the cold wind in my face most of Sunday, I woke up Monday to being quite sick. Fear not, I am doing better today. Nothing that a lot of r&r, orange juice, soup and meds couldn't fix.

That's one thing I've come to learn about myself. When I get sick, I get sick. My body doesn't mess around with just a little head cold or the flu. No way. Why have just a little when you can have it all? Anyway, this post is not to complain about my health.

Instead, it is to boast about my wonderful hubs. I have been craving and obsessing about empanada ever since I have a less than average meal at Ba Ba Reba (sorry for my honesty :)). The one thing on the menu that was actually worth eating was their empanada. Everything else, in my opinion and with my experience eating Spanish cuisine, screamed Americanized Spanish food. The food really got to me because (a) Spanish food is not difficult to make, (b) croquetas should not taste like fried fish or be served with tartar sauce and (c) good sangria should be not be served via tap. Okay, enough of that rant.

Back to my wonderful hubs. I came home from work today to the delightful smell of .... empanada. Thank goodness I can actually taste today. Pm made a delicious beef, chorizo and pepper empanada. It was delicious.

And so in lies one of my new goals: Try to cook my way through some of our favorite Spanish dishes from our Spanish cookbooks. This in itself will be challenge, mostly because I'm not as savvy as I'd like to be with the metric system when used for recipes. Not sure what the next dish will be, but I will be certain to keep this readership in the know. Approveche!