C is for Confessions of a Shopaholic

I’ve been shamefully negligent in keeping up with this blog, but I feel it is time to get back to my roots. Specifically, things that start with a ‘C.’

First up: Clothing. I’ve been shopping quite a bit the past few weekends under the guise of getting ready for a business conference. Trying to get more adult-y clothing, and all that. Hence:

My first blazer

A splash of [my favorite] color

A proper pencil skirt

Aaaand, lastly, my first two pairs of grown-up heels! (AKA, not meant for clubbing/parties.)

I also may or may not have also indulged myself in a dress and a cute ruffly top… At any rate, I’m pretty much all set. Just get me to Florida!

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C is for Christmas Cooking

Last Saturday,  my roommate and I hosted a pre-Christmas party inspired by the 22-pound Butterball turkey my roommate got from her company for Thanksgiving (it took a full four days to defrost!).

Saturday morning had me making sweet potato casserole (so delicious and sugary!) and potatoes au gratin:

(Side note: I missed a robbery at the bank in the grocery store by just a couple of hours, and I’m pretty sure I walked past the grocery store later in the afternoon, at roughly the same time the robbery was occurring, on my way to the UPS store.. crazy!)

Then it was time to do the turkey! I combined a couple recipes and the advice of about five people to create this turkey… The process involved rubbing the cavity with a mixture of lemon pepper, dried parsley, thyme, and salt, then stuffing it with celery, onions, granny smith apples, and oranges as aromatics. Then, I rubbed the outside of the turkey with extra-virgin olive oil and sprinkled the rest of the spice mixture over top. I poured chicken broth and a few mL of gingerale (sounds weird but totally legit) into the roasting pan, which was lined with tin foil so I could “tent” the turkey and retain the moisture instead of basting it.

Before & After:

Gotta have some booze, too:

The spread (an assortment of side dishes brought by friends) + the remains of the turkey carcass, which my roommate turned into a huge pot of turkey noodle soup the next day  (courtesy of crappy, no-flash iPhone camera):

Thank God for paper plates and disposable pans, etc. What was lacking in class was made up for by a hugely reduced cleanup time. Overall, a good time was had by all, and I got to cross some things off my bucket list (am I too young to have one of those?).

  • First turkey: check!
  • First time hosting an “adult” dinner party during which it is legal/permissible to consume alcoholic beverages: check! 🙂

Then, Sunday, I headed out to the suburbs where my grandma and aunt hosted a pre-Christmas luncheon before I head back to the motherland. The place settings were so cute, I just had to take a picture:

Menu: Butternut squash soup; Italian bread with olive oil and parmesan; spaghetti and meatballs in vodka sauce; individual brownie-in-a-mug; and champagne. Yum!

After lunch we watched the Bears painstakingly eke out some offense only to be stomped on by Tim Tebow’s fourth-quarter heroics. Ugh–I’m a Tebow fan and I’ve cheered him on in his previous crazy-come-from-behind games, but I was reeeealllyyyy hoping this wouldn’t happen versus my team. But alas, they were not exempt… and the season, which really was already over, gave up the ghost.

Fall Food

 One of the nicest things about living where I do now is how close the grocery store is — on the way home from work, as a matter of fact, and a mere block from my house.

While on the one hand, this could allow too many impulsive “I-need-chocolate-right-now” trips, it also means I can decide what I want for dinner as I walk home, and then stop by and pick up whatever I need.

Today, while crunching home through some nice orange and yellow leaves, I thought of two of my favorite fall foods: butternut squash and pumpkin.

A couple hours later, and voila:

(butternut squash soup)

and

(pumpkin chocolate chip muffins)

So. Freaking. Good.  I’m curious to see if my skin will start to turn orange after consuming pumpkin & squash for a few consecutive days…

Hazel

Last Tuesday, I experienced a new level of creeper-ness. It was a long day from working both jobs, including a particularly busy night at the restaurant. I scampered out the door without even enjoying an after-shift drink and started off toward my car only to be halted by yells of  “Hey! Wait! Hey!”

Thinking I had abandoned a table, or left my phone behind, or something equally dire, I turned to see who was shouting after me. It was a guy who had just walked into Jury’s a few minutes earlier with another guy and girl.

“I was hoping to talk to you! You left too soon,” he said.

“I work here… and I just finished my shift,” I said, still looking forward to the thought of sweats, chocolate, and celebrity gossip at the condo.

“I know, I know, but I was hoping you would just stay a little longer, and have a drink…”

Well, he was tall and fairly attractive, so I thought, what the heck. Celebrity gossip can wait, let’s give this guy a shot,  aaaand went back inside to have a drink.

Ok, BAD IDEA. On a scale of dumb, this man was dumber than a box of hair.

Unfortunately, this wasn’t immediately obvious, so we chatted for a few minutes, but it was very disjointed conversation. After biographical information was out of the way (I thought he was maybe 26, but he’s actually about to turn 30, and he thought I was about 24.. and I’m not), he proceeded to gaze at me intently for an awkward space of time, prompting classic shifty-eyes-look-anywhere-but-him-behavior.

“So, you have green eyes,” he stated.

“Yeah, mostly, I guess.” (my eyes are green and brown, but not mixed)

He peered closer.

“Ohhhh, you have hazel eyes!” he went on to extol the virtues of hazel eyes for several seconds. I didn’t even have to look at his to figure out he has hazel eyes, too.

He leaned forward, confidentially.

“Our children will definitely have hazel eyes.”

Um, WHAAAAT!??!!

It literally took several seconds for me to register that this stranger whom I had just met had just referenced the children we would one day have. That guarantees that we will not, in fact, ever even come close to having children. I mean, who does that? I feel like some girls might conceivably see a cute guy and think (THINK. as in, silently) that maybe, if they were to have kids, said kids would be cute.. or something vague. But for a guy to do that, and and be so..specific? Ah, weird.

Anyway, I think he realized that it’s socially … weird to say something like that, and he began maniacally laughing (I’m just going to put it out there that he had probably been drinking prior to coming to this restaurant) and then reached over to grab my hand and chortle about how we weren’t even engaged yet, and there he is talking about our children….. Ah yes, delightful!

No gracias.

I don’t think I even finished my g&t before sliding off the stool, refusing his offer of another drink, warding off his quest for my number with a “maybe next time,”  mumbling something about work the next morning, and finally making it safely to my car/chocolate/celebrity gossip/etc. So much for giving rando’s a chance..

Albany Park Encounters: Part 2

Today, I was going about my Saturday afternoon business, on my way to the library with a stack of books tucked in one arm. A man tooled up alongside me on his bicycle.

“Hi, Miss.”

I gave him the side eye, trying to divine his intentions.

“How are you, Miss? Do you like movies?”

I considered this question. Yes, I do like movies. But, I hate how answering this question in the affirmative often leads the asker into believing that I would like to see a movie with him, when in fact, most of the time, I would not.

“Umm.. sure?”

He pedaled next to me at a painstakingly slow pace as he launched into a spiel about how he gets new movies so if I was interested, or my friends, he could get me new movies, .. or something.

“So, you like movies?” he asked again.

I gestured toward my arm load of books, not wanting to encourage him it what was likely an illegal venture. “I like to read.”

“Ok. So, you want my number?”

“Um.” (awkard laugh) “No? Thanks?”

“Are you sure? I can give you my number, you can get new movies fast!”

“No, it’s ok, I’ll just..read.”

“Ok. Thanks Miss have a nice day!” his words trailed behind him as he pedaled off to his next customer.

This reminded me of a random mini-encounter that happened a few weeks ago when I was walking to my bank, which is a couple blocks away. A man was bicycling the opposite direction that I was walking, and as I looked about, we made what should have been meaningless, routine eye contact. Apparently, he read into it far more than I, as lo and behold Bicycle Man about-faced and was suddenly at my side, commenting on the weather and asking after my welfare. I responded politely until he asked me out, at which point I just said, “No. Cut it out.” Really. What makes a random bicyclist who had to have been at LEAST 40 think he has enough game to pick up a random chick walking down the street? Just no. It’s not going to happen.

Albany Park Encounters: Part 1A, B, and C

In honor of my imminent departure from the most diverse zipcode in the nation, I’m going to recount a couple of the funniest/weirdest encounters I’ve experienced in my 4+ years here.

I think top honors would have to go to a story I’ll call:

Motorboated in Albany Park: My experience with my Fat Friend Thomas

Part A

One day last fall, I was exiting the Press room office after putting in some quality time on the latest edition of the NPP. It was about dinner time, and as I began the short walk to my apartment, the setting sun cast a golden glint on the sidewalk… and on a particularly large boy who was walking toward me in the not-very-far distance.

Hmm, poor kid. He’s already that obese and so young. It’s too bad for him, I thought, as I began to cross the street. My thoughts returned to what else I had to do on the newspaper before it was finished, and so it was almost Twilight Zone-ish when, as I was just about reaching the corner, my FFT was simultaneously bursting through the hedge, triumphantly ending up right in front of me, and completely blocking my path.

“Hi, I’m Thomas,” he said, sticking out his left hand.

What the heck, I might as well shake his hand, I figured. I reached out my left hand, too, since my coat was draped over my right arm.

Moving faster than I would have thought possible, Thomas latched onto my hand, using it to propel himself face-first into my bosom, then expertly reached around and rested his right hand on my rear.

I don’t know what to say besides that I was in shock, and I don’t know if any thought passed through my head beyond WHAT THE HELL IS HAPPENING TO ME RIGHT NOW?! as I tried to push him off of me, while both arms were trapped in front of me in a me + Thomas sandwich.

At some point, his face left my chest and I wrested my hand away from his grip.

“Can I have another hug?”

“Um, NO! No, you can’t!” I informed him.

“Can we shake hands again, then?”

“No, Thomas, no you cannot shake my hand!”

I anticipated him just going for it again, so I took my chance to sqeeze past him and around the corner, where the entrance of my apartment was just yards away.

“Can I come home with you??” Thomas’s voice trailed after as he began following me.

Without a backward glance, I told Thomas in no uncertain terms that he could not come home with me and that it would be best if he returned to his own home.

The end, right? No. This is not the end. That was only the beginning (although definitely the most eventful encounter).

Part B

A few weeks later, my [college] roommate and I were walking down the same street on our way back to the apartment. In the distance, I saw a very large child walking toward us.

“Oh my gosh, K, that’s him. I think that’s Thomas.”

We both giggled in disbelief.

“Is it? Do you think that’s him?”

“Yes! I’m pretty sure it is. Oh my gosh. We have to cross the street!”

So, we crossed, but like a tanker, so did Thomas, as he steadily made his way right for me. K and I tried to huddle behind an unsuspecting North Park male who was walking a few paces in front of us, with K rationalizing that surely Thomas wouldn’t bother us if we were with a guy.

False. The kid made a beeline straight at me, not even blessing K with a glance, as he once again stuck out his hand and declared, “Hi, I’m Thomas!”

“I am not falling for that again,” I muttered as I scrambled after K, who had already dodged the Thomas bullet and had distanced herself with the NP male in between us.

“At least we can outrun him,” K pointed out as I caught up to her. (We did.)

Part C

No further motorboating ensued in Part B, but I had one last Thomas-encounter a couple weeks ago when I made the mistake of walking down the same street only to walk right past the lion’s den (aka Thomas’s abode), where he stood in the front yard and rushed (as well as he is able to do so) toward me, calling after me that his name is Thomas, and did I want to shake his hand?… I didn’t.

And, hopefully, that concludes my Thomas Encounters.

Rooftop’s a Charm

I am not normally a superstitious person. For example, I enjoy walking under ladders, regularly break mirrors, step on sidewalk cracks like nobody’s business (hey, my mom already broke her back, so no big deal), invite black cats to walk in front of me on Halloween, etc. etc. Pretty standard stuff.

However, when it comes to baseball, I am VERY superstitious. I have about 7 or 8 Cubs shirts. Why so many? Because if I wear one to a game, and they lose, I can’t ever wear it to a game again. If I wear a Cubs shirt while I’m watching on TV and they lose, I won’t wear that shirt again for weeks, especially not on game days.

I also get very upset at people for “jinxing” the Cubs. For example, if an announcer starts talking about how well Ryan Dempster has been pitching (something that an announcer would not, in fact, be saying in recent days), I’ll get mad and yell DON’T JINX HIM STOP STOP (or something along those lines), and then watch as Dempster gives up a grand slam. I’m not kidding, it happens.

If I start watching a game on TV, and they’re winning, and then they start playing badly, I feel like it has something to do with me and I’ll stop watching in the hopes the game improves.

It got to the point where I was legimately feeling guilty about going to Cubs games because they had lost the last six I attended (including the three I’ve gone to so far this year), and I firmly believed my presence had something to do with it.

Of course, I never feel guilty enough to actually turn down a Cubs game, so when my company sponsored a Cubs rooftop outing, I was there!

Here’s the view:

Not bad for a rooftop, huh? To be honest, I probably didn’t actually watch a complete inning. Heck, I probably didn’t even see five consecutive pitches. BUT, it was a cool experience, and guess what? The Cubs finally won!

Of course, it’s probably only because I wasn’t physically in Wrigley Field, so maybe I should stick to rooftops from now on…