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!



Labor of Love

Good Morning! Was getting up this morning as tough for everyone else as it was for me? I had overdone it a bit yesterday so I needed some pain pills last night. While they help me sleep and chase the pain away, they end up giving me some really strange dreams, and I wake up a LOT overnight, positive I just slept 8 hours when it was really 45 minutes from the last time I checked. So I was awake before the alarm this morning, but that didn’t mean I was happy about it! 

All things considered, we had a pretty OK Labor Day weekend. Friday’s surgery was pretty routine. The doctor found a lot of scar tissue that was the source of my pain. He did NOT find any new endometriosis, so there’s hope I won’t need to do this again for a while. Once I got home, all I could do was sleep though! I spent most of Friday half conscious, waking up just enough to start the next episode of Numbers on Netflix and fall back asleep. I got out of bed and went to get the mail-Nurse Duncan was NOT amused. He started howling at me the second I came back in the house! I stood there and tried to talk to Jeff for another minute, and he kept advancing and howling at me. I go back to bed, he follows me in, positions himself between me and the door, and lays down with one eye on me. Apparently my dog knows what’s good for me better than I do! 

We did manage to get out of the house and out to dinner Friday night, since I was blissfully NOT nauseous from the anesthesia. I kept it simple and just had a soup, a delicious salad, and a few bites of Jeff’s pappardale. We got some chocolate and salted caramel cake to go and were in bed by 8:30. Poor Jeff had to get up at 5 with me to make it to the hospital on time and he did NOT sleep all day like I did, so poor guy was OUT cold after our dessert. 

Beautiful AND delicious!

Most of the rest of the weekend, I was keeping a balance between pain pills, doing too much, napping, and repeating. I just get super wiped out after surgery anymore. It’s really the most lingering side effect of the whole thing, which is hard for me to deal with as a normally high energy person. Being laid up for a few days really does give me a chance to kind of examine my life-where I am, where I want to be, is what I hold important REALLY what’s important? It gave me a lot to think about. 

When we were at the coffee shop this weekend, I got in some good people watching. Lately, back to school has been all over my Facebook feed, kids holding the magic chalkboard to document what grade they’re starting. And maybe I’m in an extra introspective mood, but it got me to thinking. When we’re little, we’re just discovering what we’re good at. We try everything (except broccoli). And more often than not, it’s our parents, our siblings, our classmates who determine what we stick with. When our interests or talents veer into the uncool, they’re all quick to let us know-and we stop. It’s all about finding what you’re good at-as long as you fit in with the crowd. We spend the first 18 years trying to find our talents within the bubble of what’s socially acceptable, and the rest of our lives trying to get back the individuality we stuffed down. 

I’m ready to find what I love doing again, whether it’s blog worthy or not. I can remember deciding to go on my first diet at age 10. I was always super conscious of my body and that dictated what situations I’d put myself in. I wouldn’t try most sports because I was uncoordinated, slightly bigger than the other girls, and did NOT like attention. In junior high, I stepped out of my bubble and tried to pay volleyball, basketball, cheerleading. None of them went over well and I got teased a lot. It just reinforced my body consciousness and how I felt about myself. Makes me wonder about all the fun I missed out on because I wasn’t comfortable in my own skin. 

I’m not a wonderful chef, but I have good instincts and I’m a fair to good baker. I would be good at knitting if I could sit still long enough to finish something. I am a terrible artist, but some furniture design and DIY has been catching my eye lately. I’m not a fast runner, but my propensity for masochism and a good dose of sweat make it one of my favorite things to do. Maybe it’s time to quit apologizing for everything and try things without fear-even if middle school Laura would get flamed mercilessly for it. I told myself a year ago that once we got married, I’d be able to devote entire weekends to whatever struck my fancy. Get an urge to read all weekend? Go for it! Want to try and make your own tomato sauce? Have at it! I forgot that along the way because I got so fixated on living my life in order to see a certain number on the scale. Will anyone remember that I weighed XXX and was in the middle of my healthy weight range when I die? NO. But maybe they’ll remember how I was always quick to gift some comfort food, a cute craft, or some time walking together to hash out whatever is bothering us. Life’s too short to restrict yourself so you fit in everyone’s box of where they think you belong. 

Dogs. They're just the best.

Dogs. They’re just the best.