Thursday Things-October Edition

Thursdays always make me feel unsettled. This morning was no exception-I should have known the tone of the day when I changed my clothes five times before I finally got out the door. Got to work to find out that something I’d missed a setting on yesterday STILL wasn’t right. Super frustrating. Threw myself a mini pity party, took some ibuprofen to quell the migraine in my brain, and went about my day. And bit by bit, it got better-until I got to the gym. I’d been debating running vs using my current fave machine, the AMT trainer. Discovered when I got there that I’d forgotten a pretty important element in my gym bag this morning-socks! UGH. NO WAY I could run, but I could still use the AMT. And the only one that was left open for me was the one whose TV doesn’t work. ARGH! Good thing I’d brought my phone with me-locked in the wifi, queued up some hulu, and killed that workout. Took a brief shower, headed back to work, and kicked the rest of the day in the butt.

Tonight was my night to make dinner, and I could NOT decide what to make. Poked around pinterest and settled on this recipe. I was surprised how quickly it came together, and we were not disappointed with it! Light, easy, broccoli & shrimp.

General Tso's Sweet Chili Shrimp

NO pics from my attempt; we were too busy eating! Now, Jeff’s over in his office doing his homework and I’m sitting out in the living room, blogging and surfing the web until I’m tired enough to go to bed. I’ve had a lot of worry lately-Jeff’s in school so we get less quality time together, we’re dealing with a few financial setbacks, and things at work have been stressful. When you’re a worrier, sometimes the line between what’s real and what’s imagined gets a little blurry. You start out worried that maybe you won’t have extra money for your favorite treats, and before you know it, you’re convinced you will get your car repossessed. That’s a bit drastic, but you get my point-your mind runs away with things and makes them far darker than they need to be. Times like these make me remind myself to center. I’m starting small-a reminder to breathe when I need it, permission not to work out so hard it makes me puke (last week, seriously-but that’s a whole different story), a few yoga poses during commercials on TV or hulu. Who knows, maybe I’ll actually get myself to a yoga class sometime soon.

Mike! Obligatory gif for closing-this sums up how I’ve felt at work lately:


What makes us tick

I have a weird schedule at work during the school year. My team is small, just 3 people. And none of us like staying till 5 (there’s an 8-5 shift or a 7:30-4:30 shift at our office). So during the Summer, one guy on the team stays late so he can carpool with his wife during the school year. During the school year, the other guy and I split the late shift. I’m a pain in the ass, because Tues & every other Wed I teach a class at the YMCA that requires I leave around 4:20 to make my 4:30 class. So I stay late Mon, Thurs, and every other Friday, and he takes the off days. Anywho, I’m also the one that reliably arrives to work the earliest, around 7. We’re not allowed to have overtime, so this means some day during the week I need to take a long lunch, leave early, come in late, whatever.

This past Thursday, I took advantage of a holiday where my Mom works to meet her for an afternoon hike at a state park. We got a great workout in and walked for over 2 hours, and had some great conversations. One topic flowed into the next, and we ended up divulging our “secret” interests in mortality. We both admitted to having done web searches for old photos of death, serial killers, dead celebrities, even a morbid interest in 9/11. I watched a documentary on the 9/11 attacks while I was recovering from my last surgery. My Mom told a story of how her second husband could not wrap his head around her interest in serial killers-she used to have TONS of books on Ted Bundy, the Green River Killer, and on and on.

It’s not a unique fascination. There’s a crime section of every newspaper, there’s Court TV, that crime procedural dramas last forever on reruns and the like. I know I had a fleeting interest in Sociology and Psychology when in college, though I settled for Communication Studies. The way we all relate to each other, the way our brains work, is a mystery to most of us. Most books we read or shows we watch have some semblance of relatability to us. We’ve all gotten cut off in traffic and yelled at the driver in front of us. I know I’m curious how that fleeting “hey, asshole!” moment in my brain can be the thing that snaps another person. What makes someone snap and actually take another person’s life?

I can remember where I was when we heard about Columbine. When 9/11 happened, everyone at work stopped. We gathered in break rooms, called loved ones in NYC when we could, and in my case, I remember my boyfriend at the time stopping by during his evening shift as a delivery driver just to give me a hug and connect because that day left us all feeling disconnected. Hearing about a mother snapping and killing her children, someone killing for love, for anger, for money….the reasons are multiple and I don’t presume to know much about them. But they fascinate me. And that brings me to the other part of the equation.


I’m also reading the book “Smoke Gets in Your Eyes” right now. It’s a book written by a girl who was fascinated with death as a child, especially after seeing a young child plummet to her death in a mall when she was 10. As a result, she worked in a crematorium for several years and wrote the book to relate her experience. It’s fascinating, I started it yesterday when I had a lunch date with myself. Does anyone else ever do that? Periodically, I get a craving to have a meal in public with a good book. I can’t explain why, but it just brings me pleasure. I think it’s because it seems decadent for one person to go out for a meal on their own. Anyway, I had a solo pho meal and it was delicious. The decision to bike there and back, however…don’t bike on a bellyful of pho, take it from me. Anyway, I digress. She makes a lot of points in the book about how society has moved from leaving their dead on the proverbial curb to hiding them in hospitals, mortuaries, and crematories. Also, I think all of us can remember the first time we saw a dead body. I don’t know that I remember my first dead body, but I remember the most important, and I saw him twice: my Grandpa. When I was about 12, he had a quadruple bypass. We all went to see him while in recovery, and I’d never in my life seen a human look so grey. It was terrifying. When he did pass away, around 20 years later, I did NOT want to see his prepared body. I’m of the mindset that what makes you, you, goes away when you die. I don’t want to be prepared. I don’t want to be on display for anyone. That’s not me. I’m already gone. But anyway, with Grandpa, it confounded friends and family that I Did NOT want to see him. People tried to get me to go up to the casket at the viewing, but I didn’t want to. I didn’t need to see him like that. At the church for the funeral, they had him at the back, and thus I couldn’t avoid it forever. It was so disconcerting to me-like a wax figurine. I don’t know how that sight could possibly be comforting to anyone. It’s just so strange to me.

This brings me to another point, question, whatever. Have you spoken with your loved ones about what happens when you die? Jeff knows, my Mom knows, even my little brother knows that I want cremated. I believe the exact phrase is “you burn me, don’t you ever put me in the ground”. I feel a bit strongly about this. I don’t want a gravesite. I’ve never seen the gravesite of my father. It’s in Texas, he passed when I was 5, and I just don’t feel the need to go touch a granite plaque where his body is. Grave Sites bring a whole different discussion for me, but I’ll save that for another time. Jeff and I aren’t sure what will happen if we die of old age, but we sure have a plan for calamitous disease. If one of us passes at a young age, the other is to travel the world and sprinkle a little in Italy, a little on this mountaintop, a little at that ocean. Hold some for yourself if that’s what you need. But make sure one way or another, we get to take all the trips we wanted to take together.

OK, so I like lunch on my own, books about death, and I google serial killers. Indulge me, friends: what’s your secret interest that nobody knows about? Make me feel less weird. And, to indulge our friend Mike, here’s a light hearted gif to bring my blog…wait for it…back from the dead! HA! OK, but it’s actually kinda sad. See, I’m convinced our dogs will NEVER DIE but Jeff doesn’t share my beliefs. We’ve had discussions about what kind of dogs we’d “like next” (pshaw, because Foster WILL LIVE FOREVER AND YOU CAN’T CONVINCE ME OTHERWISE) and we tentatively agreed upon a Shiba Inu. You know, of Dog-e-coin fame. Anywho, here’s proof that they’re just as smart as my Border Collie and we’ll never be free of the smart dog reign which is upon us:


Stay Aware, Stay Alive

I have quite a few half-finished posts in my drafts, waiting for my critical eye to finish them off. I just read this story in our local paper, though, and had to throw in a quick two cents.

The story basically goes like this: 15 year old boy and 66 year old man are both using our bike path system last week in the evening. Boy looks down instead of out in front of him while cycling, doesn’t notice he’s drifted out of his lane, collides with 66 year old man. By Monday, the man had died from his injuries.

How many times do we all do the same thing? You get lost in your thoughts, jam out to a good song, or just space out for a second and shake yourself back to reality to notice you’re not where you should be. Or even rounding a corner or curve in the road with more momentum than you were prepared for, and narrowly avert disaster? This could happen to anyone, and I just feel for both families involved. It’s just a solid reminder to turn the volume down a bit, pay attention to where you are, and realize that whether you’re piloting a bicycle, car, or your fine self, you are resposible for more than just your own life when you bring momentum into the mix. Stay aware, stay in control, stay alive, people. It only takes a second to prevent or ensure disaster, which way would you rather go?

A Hell of a Town…

Vacation recap blogs are daunting. To try and sum up everything you did, saw, and ate almost always guarantees you’ll forget something, someone, whatever. I’m quite certain I will forget a few things, but as a highlight reel, we’ll focus mostly on the main attraction of our trip to Chicago: the food.

The first night we got there, we headed up to Wicker Park starving and looking for food. After walking around a bit, we found a cute little place serving Bahn Mi (for Jeff) and Pho (for Laura). I ate that soup like I’d been starving for days. I am pretty sure on a normal day, the place wouldn’t have stood out in my memory at all, but factor in hunger power, and it was the best damn pho I’ve ever had. We then met up with a friend who had moved to Chicago recently and stopped in to one of Jeff’s favorite pubs. It was a bit of a hipster haven, but did have this delightful drawing on the back of the bathroom wall:

Thursday, we headed straight to Jeff’s favorite coffee shop in town, the Wormhole. Specializing in old school nintendo tile artistry on the walls, a delorean on display, and awesome coffee and pastries, it totally hit the spot. I got sconed, Jeff had a croissant, and we just hung out and read our respective books & magazines. I love doing that on vacation-we made another trip to the wormhole on a day we didn’t feel like doing much of anything, and spent some more time just hanging out without the guilt of “I should get home and tend to the yard a bit”. After our coffee, we hit the Shedd aquarium, where we made friends with this turtle:

And then realized we were starving. Off to Eataly! If you’ve never been, it gets a bit overwhelming to me, but it basically has all the foods you’d expect to find in Italy, as well as the supplies to make it yourself. We hung out at the meat and cheese section, and had some delicious wine and lunch:

I think this may have actually been the first time I’ve had a fig, aside from the occasional fig newton consumed after school when I was 7. But the honey drizzle, apricots, almonds, and figs may actually have been my favorite part of this meal. LOVE them with the crusty bread. This made us realize we totally needed to up our game for our own charcuterie nights at home! That evening, we cruised up to a recommended dinner spot, Miller’s Pub, and found it…OK. My dinner was unremarkable, and I think that I’ll remember that place only as the spot Jeff drank absinthe at.

Friday, we had breakfast at a Chicago chain that I had gotten a few gift certificates to some years back-I was already feeling the sting of spending all the money on vacation, so this helped. Headed over to the Field Museum, where we saw more taxidermied animals than I’d ever thought possible. After we got our science on, we decided to try “Little Goat” for lunch. It’s the less formal restaurant from a Top Chef winner in Chicago. I had a Greek salad, Jeff had an amazing looking burger, and we shared some fried pickles. I really enjoyed it-one of my favorite meals on the trip. That night, it was cold and drizzly so we just chilled at our condo and got some subpar Chinese delivered.

Saturday, we had breakfast at another of Jeff’s faves in “Little Italy”-Stax. Gotta love a place that has sweats as part of their uniform, right? After that, we peeked through the stained glass museum and then splurged on an architecture cruise of the city. Our guide was great and we learned a ton.

That night, we had some British fare at Owen & Engine and then took in a star wars burlesque show. It was exactly as crazy as you’re imagining. Honestly, even someone with a casual knowledge of Star Wars could appreciate it. This was our latest night and the people we encountered on the transportation home were quite…varied.

Sunday was dim sum day! Headed over to Chinatown and ended up at the exact restaurant my friend Molly and I had been to 2 years prior. Everything was divine except for the ill-fated “beef balls”-texturally we just couldn’t handle it. So both times I’ve been there, we had one dish we didn’t care for and everything else was delicious. This was the afternoon we meandered around Wicker Park, hung at the coffee shop, and just slowed down a bit. Dinner was some AMAZING tacos at Antique Taco-I’d recommend that place to anyone. Shrimp tacos mademe regret my decision to share with Jeff, as I wanted them all to myself!

So all in all, we had a great vacation. I think, for Chicago, we may have been there a bit longer than we needed. And I reinforced that I’m a creature of habit, and really thrive best in my little bubble of work, gym, weekend lazy, repeat. I think we’re all that way to some degree-but I have no problem admitting I cling to my routine a bit more than most!


SO much to tell everyone. Not enough time at this moment to do it. This means word vomit for you. Sorry I’m not sorry.

I confess that….I’m pretty sad to admit I think I can cross the half marathon I’m signed up for in November off my list. I was supposed to stay off my shin and either crutch walk for 4 weeks. I stayed off for about 2 and then reset the clock by running twice in 3 days and wrecked my leg. So I’m 1 week and 2 days into recovery. We did burpees, jump squats, and curtsy lunges in the Boot Camp I taught tonight. A twinge during each lunge turned into pain walking upstairs and ultimately walking at all tonight. So there’s 3 weeks left before I can even try to run again, and the race is November 9th. Realistically, I could probably try, but would it be a good idea? Nope. Sad panda, smart girl.

I confess that…our week in Chicago “Changed Me”. Travel blog and inspiration blog forthcoming, but the gist is this: every time we go to a museum, it starts. I feel sad. Jeff reminds me of all our friends in sciency professions and their accomplishments, and I start to feel inadequate. And then I whine about it on Facebook. But you know what? It wouldn’t hold my interest. I thought I’d be an archaologist when I was like 12, but who didn’t? ESPECIALLY us ladies of a certain “Jurassic Park during our tween years” age. Weather patterns, water conservation, and related sciency fields would never have held my attention. The career I wanted to pursue, bailed, and have regretted ever since? Dietetics. THIS is my passion. Blogging. Helping, The only science that ever held my attention was the science of food. Now that I’m a fully formed adult, it’s even more so, but with experience to back it up. I’d like to know what happens to food at certain temperatures. I’d like to understand the chemical reaction that makes bread rise. I’d like to know how to pair spices to create the best dinner ever. So what the hell is my problem? Because at the same time I’m lamenting my perceived inadequacy, I’m also wishing I could just be happy being a good barista, bartender, or the like. I’d enjoy walking away from work each day knowing I did the best job I could do. I made 20 coffees, cleaned the shelves, left my workplace a better place for the next guy. That I could walk in, focus on a task, do it well, and then walk out with no lingering thoughts about a solution for client A. To me, the most menial tasks are the most rewarding sometimes. So what the hell is my deal? Whatever it is, I need to find a way to be happy within my current job, because it and I are not going anywhere.

I confess that…I love vacation, but I am SO glad to be home. Blog forthcoming re: packing for vacations. I SO packed wrong. Not terrible, but got down to the uncomfortable, the wrong-for-the-weather, and the impractical with way too many days left. The last few days of vacation, I missed our dogs, our tv time in the basement, and my routine more than I probably should have. Hey, I’m human. It happens. Having fun in a new city lasts X amount of time until it either needs to become routine or I need to get back to what is mine. This weekend has been the best thing for regrouping, cleaning up the house, getting settled back in to my normal routine, and stocking back up our pantry.

I confess that…I’m really excited to enter “crock pot season”. It’s almost that magic time that we trade off duties at the Anderson house and i take over some cooking so Jeff can focus on his studies. I’m pretty good at baking, casserole type dishes, and surprisingly-Asian food. But a basic grilled meat and vegetable side somehow escape me. In walked the crock pot. Throw it together and forget it? All of the yes. I don’t really know why we use crock pots more in Winter than Summer, when really it makes more sense in hot weather-no need to heat up the kitchen. But the hearty, soup-y, casserole type meals that come out of the crock pot are more suited to winter warm-your-innards eating. Sundays are a great day to use crock pot recipes-if you’re anything like me, you’re busy cleaning and running errands all day, only to look up at 8:00 and realize you’re starving. Hence, this recipe. Taco stew is one of our favorites. Easy to modify to make more spicy, thicker, brothier, whatever you like. It’s in my belly right now, and I’m a happy girl.

I confess that…every so often, I engage in a little ‘light stalking”. I found out the other day that my ex found his now-wife as the next girl he dated after me. Consider me a “Good Luck Chuck” if you will. But, anyway, dirty little secrets aside, my point is this: I really enjoy being able to keep up with friends via Facebook that otherwise I would have just lost touch with. One of the girls I went to a very small high school with but haven’t seen in 15+ years? One of my BFF’s on facebook, as we now share a sense of humor and more interests than some of the girls I see day to day. It’s great, and it gives me insight to a wide variety of lifestyles other than my own. Hell, with all these friends posting baby videos, pictures, and milestones I have no need to adopt my own-a simple facebook posting is all the baby fix I need, without those pesky 4:00 am feedings.

I confess that…I’m kind of excited for “new” tv to start back up again. Mostly because I can have my hulu running on my second monitor and quasi-watch most of my favorite shows while also being productive as hell. But it’ll be nice to watch new stuff instead of re-watching Lost and old seasons of Top Chef. Yeah, I may be a bit predictable-but I have good taste, right? Nope. I also watch America’s Next Top Model, Survivor, anything remotely associated with Tim Gunn, and most procedural dramas. Hey, I was a single girl for a long time and old habits die hard. Don’t hold my love for CSI against me, kthxbai?

I confess that….I could confess all night. SO many hidden facets to this girl. I’ll save the rest for another time, though. It’s not really all that late and I’m still ready to watch this episode of Boardwalk Empire (our new obsession) and fall asleep far earlier than I probably should. Hey, married life is wild, what can I say? OH, yeah, gotta end with this. I drank the majority (OK ALL) of a pot of coffee this morning. On our way to this month’s play of our season’s tickets…I may have looked like good old Bobby Hill:



I *may*have spoken too soon.

That run I was crowing about Monday? Yeah, it may have wrecked me. If your doctor tells you NOT to run for a month, maybe you shouldn’t think “I’m a ruuner, I’ll know when I can get back at it” or something similar. Maybe you should not fucking run for a month, And if you do, and it feels OK, maybe running 3 days later is pushing your luck. Because if you ran 4 miles Friday, and Monday you run 5, but that last mile feels “a little tweaky” on your shin, that’s not good. And if you walk a mile with your husband after work and you’re noticeably limping at the end when you normally run 35 miles per week, that’s really bad. 

It leads to you realizing you’re an idiot. It makes you realize that taking your running shoes on vacation is not a good idea. It makes you realize that running along Lake Michigan isn’t going to happen this year. It makes you realize you actually have an injury. It makes you question that half marathon you’re signed up for 2 months from now. It makes you desperately cross train in hopes of keeping cardio strength, fitness, and weight in check. 

It also frees you. Your running shoes are staying home. Your vacation is about exploring a city with your husband instead of sneaking in a 6 mile run before he’s ready to start sightseeing in the morning. Your vacation is full of walks, and food, and fun. The frantic part desperately trying to fit in exercise will be gone. And though it’s terrifying, it’s damn sure freeing. 

Moral of the story? Listen to your doctor. If the pain was so bad you went to the doctor on a Saturday, and then followed up with the xray place the following Monday, and shoved crutches in your armpits in between, AND looked for a cane half heartedly at Goodwill because your dr told you so…then maybe don’t run for a month. And then, as he said, the counter resets every freaking time you do. Maybe you just ruined your chances of running that half marathon you signed up for in November. Maybe that DOUBLE half marathon weekend you were thinking of being a badass and doing is off the table. Maybe you were basically a running novice, and ran 6 months straight, 30+ miles each week, and it caught up with you. Suck on that, runner chutzpah. 

And just because I can’t end a post without some hilarity, it was pre vacation night at our house. Which generally means it’s also pizza night. And I’d like to imagine Duncan a little bit like this: 

pizza night'


Jeff and I had Friday off work last week to cannonball up to his hometown and back to attend services for a family member. I was kind of edgy all morning, and when I finally forced him to give me a timetable of our day, I realized if I headed out THAT VERY MOMENT, I could get in a quick 4 mile run. Yeah, I hadn’t run in a week or two. Yeah, I was *technically* supposed to be off running for another 2 weeks. But things were feeling good and I headed out the door. Still in our driveway, I realized I hadn’t really looked outside before I left. And it was raining. Without hesitation, I whipped my shirt off, covered my phone with it for protection, and kept going. It was the best damn 4 miles I’ve run in a LONG time. I basically danced along the bike path. Got home and felt no pain in my shin! Fast forward to that evening, and it was a little sore, but nothing major. So I’m working on slowly easing back into it. 

Today I ran over my lunch hour. I hopped on the treadmill, tried to follow the same little program I always did, and choked. I pushed through 5 miles, but they were ugly. I had hoped to go 6 but settled for 5 because around then, I could feel my shin starting to act up. And so, I won’t run for the next few days. That’s how it goes. And yeah, tonight it might hurt even more, but I just can’t help myself! Another weird symptom of whatever’s going on is an aching down into my heel that is pretty much present whenever I’ve run or sat for a long period of time. Same leg, so I feel like it may be related, but how I’m not sure. 

One more day of work this week, and then Jeff and I head out for this year’s vacation. It may not be European, but we are spending decidedly less money this year than last. Found some wicked cheap Southwest air fares and we’re headed to Chicago! Stay tuned for gratuitous food photos, obligatory lake photos, a trip to the Frank Lloyd Wright museum, and probably a Millenium Park bean selfie. It’s how I roll. 

Saw this dog photo the other day…and oh my. 


Wednesday Wanderings

I took a walk Tuesday after work, and it was one of those where you look around and think:

The sky is so blue!
The air is so crisp!

It’s like going for a walk gets me high sometimes. Seriously. The existential thoughts and happy trees going through my mind would make Willie Nelson blush. Some of my thoughts:

a nice leisurely walk outside is so invigorating. Resolution: make 10,000 step goal on my phone each day, by taking a walk or by gym exercise.

I don’t want a fancy house. They seem expensive. And time consuming. I want my modest house I can furnish mostly how I want, and to save any excess for my eventual move to Europe. Which brings me to…

I will live in Europe no longer than 30 years from now. Watched House Hunters International again today, totally bad news for me. BUT, apartments in Spain were like $800 a month! We can afford that. We WILL afford that. I’ll do nothing but work in cafes and bakeries 18 hours a day if I have to, but I will absolutely make it happen.

After my walk, took a nice deliciously long bath and Jeff made pasta for dinner. And when I say “made pasta”, I mean it.





I spent a good part of Monday processing down tomatoes to make some homemade pizza sauce. We’ve been growing basil in our garden. The only thing in the meal that we didn’t make ourselves was the wine and some parmesan cheese we sprinkled on top (Trader Joe’s shredded, not that grated crap in a can!). I cannot convey how delicious it was. And I want to point out that Jeff made that pasta by hand with a giant rolling pin. We’re scouring ebay, craigslist, and the like for a decently priced pasta attachment so he can do this more often. What can we say, we’re Irish by blood and Italian by heart!