Sunday, January 30, 2011
mmm how i love me my saturdays. this saturday was a little different than normal because a few weeks ago, kind of on a whim, i signed up to volunteer with habitat for humanity. sometimes i really do wonder what thoughts are going through my head with some of the decisions i make "on a whim". i feel like this happens more often than not. and quite frankly, i was more than a little anxious about what to expect with this project. why anxious, you ask?
when you include sentences like "
Sunday, January 23, 2011
ah. corner bakery. have you guys ever been here before? id never heard of it until i moved to chicago, but i quickly fell in love with it. it's so COZY (and, weird as this may be, i LOVE the font that they use for their restaurant title. have i shared my love/natural attraction to fonts? anyway. this would be a standard case in point). the food isnt like the most amazing thing EVER, but it's certainly delicious enough for a regular day's lunch out. i never tire of it, at least.
my initial discovery of this place was because of the lunches i would eat here. however, after a couple of months, i realized that, if im going to be drinking coffee in the morning, i might as well come HERE instead of starbucks since it is just that much darn cheaper (and tastier!). i highly recommend their hazelnut coffee. delicious, even to me, and i am not a huge fan of the actual taste of coffee (which is exactly why starbucks coffee makes me want to gag each and everytime i choke that stuff down). granted, who knows if it's the actual taste of the corner bakery hazelnut coffee that i am advertising here... or the two packets of splenda that are drowning out the taste of everything with the deliciousness that can only be fake sugar... or the heaping mounds of cinnamon that i dump on top of the coffee to, well, drown out the taste of everything else in that cup. but i digress.
i began frequenting corner bakery even MORE regularly after i discovered the beauty of their "buy six cups of coffee, get the seventh free" cards. it's amazing how quickly you accumulate free coffees if you go here every morning before work and are religious about getting your cards stamped and all. talk about the deal of all deals, really.
of course, becoming a "regular" at this place was only inevitable. i mean, this place is like right across the street from my work. and the DEALS to be had (especially compared to starbucks...)... im a sucker what can i say. who knew that it would only get BETTER from here. i mean, dont get me wrong, i was totally content enough with my "buy six, get the seventh free" deals. what can be better than that?
try... free coffee... every. single. day.
see, this is the beauty of being an openly friendly person, i guess. so there's this one corner bakery guy that is always working the counter when i come in (because i obvi come in around the same time every morning since i have a regular daily routine). anyway, when i first started coming in, he would charge me for the coffee and then stamp stamp stamp my glorified card with gusto (sigh. he's so adorable and friendly and. well. pitter patter goes the heart for adorable, friendly people. you know. the usual. haha).
but then one morning (no different than any other morning), i come in and he's just like "medium coffee, right?" because, duh, im a regular and my order is NOT difficult. so i confirm this and he hands me my cup for coffee and i have my wallet all out ready to pay away, and he's just like "nah, dont worry about it." sigh. i was a little affronted because, if you know me, im all about fairness and paying my way through life and all that. but whatever. i was just like "aww! thank you SO MUCH!" (because who DOESN'T love a friendly thank you, really). so i was all about ready to traipse off with my totally free cup of coffee when i realized... this was the corner bakery guy's lucky DAY. today was the day that i had just happened to have baked cupcakes for my coworkers. so what do i do? i'm just like, "oh wait a second! here, because you gave ME coffee, im going to give YOU some cupcakes. do you have a plate?" hahaha. and that's right. i totally gave this guy cupcakes in exchange for coffee. talk about the BARTER SYSTEM COMING RIGHT BACK INTO CAPITALIST AMERICA!
well. i thought it would end there. i mean, i may drink coffee like it's water, but at the end of the day, it's NOT water and does cost money. but no. ever since that fine day... i have NEVER had to pay for a cup of coffee! GOD, i feel special. hahaha. i mean, it was a gradual progression, let's be honest. it started out with me being genuinely surprised when corner bakery guy would say i didnt have to pay for my coffee the first few times... then, this progressed to me taking my wallet out, but definitely just more for formality's sake because i mean, who are we kidding here (but i didnt want to seem GREEDY hello)... to, well, the point im at now, where he just hands me a cup as im walking in and i dont even bother taking my wallet out. in fact, i would be slightly offended if i DID have to take my wallet out, thank you very much.
hmm. is that weird? illegal, maybe? who knows.
even just last week, i went to corner bakery for the first time this new year to buy a coffee cake for my friend and tacked on a coffee to the order. i knew he was going to charge me for the coffee cake (i mean, HELLO, even I'M not that special), so i figured he'd just tack on the coffee on top of it, since a bill was already being generated (and since i hadnt been there in SO LONG). but no... free coffee it was AGAIN! okay. maybe it had something to do with the fact that i greeted him with, "WOW, i havent been here in so LONG, how ARE YOU?" hahahah but whatever. midwestern charm and all that.
sigh. how i love going to corner bakery now. it's all very scientific, really. because if i walk into corner bakery and DON'T see him working, i immediately start reevaluating my order. i mean, should i splurge and get a specialty beverage that morning (since i already KNOW i will have to be paying for coffee since this whole under-the-table is limited to him working the counter) or just stick with paying for a cup of coffee and actually USING those buy six, get the seventh free cards that are still sitting in my purse (since, OBVI, i haven't been using them as of late since i cant have HIM stamp these cards if he's ALREADY straight up GIVING me coffee. )? anyway. at least it gets my mind churning that early in the morning.
man, i hope he's working tomorrow morning. i dont want him to think im taking him for GRANTED, heaven forbid. and since im toting some baked goods to the office ANYWAY, im totally going to barter it up with him (just like in that initial free offering of the coffee) so that he realizes that i truly do appreciate his totally illegal shenanigans and am certainly NOT taking it for granted (well, kind of).
anyway, dont think i dont give credit where it's totally due. i was TOTALLY going to take a picture of corner bakery guy and post it in my blog to actively advertise him to my blog audience and subsequently, give him the link to my blog (it's not my fault if i HAPPEN to grab another blog follower in this whole love story of a process), but i figured that he may not actually WANT to be advertised for totally doing something illegal on a regular basis. hence the discreetness of this entry (note how i dont mention his name NOR the corner bakery location which i frequent... ahhh always a THINKER, that i am. haha).
sigh. the corner bakery guy and i. a love story if ever i heard one. HA.
Monday, January 17, 2011
the pounding heart, the sweaty palms, the brain freeze... the complete nervous system breakdown that can only inevitably accompany the dreaded... Awkward Silence.
everyone's been there before, right? come on, you'd HAVE to be lying if you said that you've never experienced this phenomenon. the worst thing about the Awkward Silence is that it goes, without fail, from just the Awkward Silence to the Awkward Silence Black Hole in about thirty seconds (if you're lucky). now, coming from a girl who has a LOT to say, i still have had my share of Awkward Silences. granted, i think i've gotten better over time (kind of like aged wine, if you will...) in terms of trying to overcome such Awkward Silences with random topics that i have generated over the years, but still. in my head, if i know it's an Awkward Silence, so do any and all involved parties.
but here's the deal. this is not my problem. i mean, WHAT? if all involved parties know that we're in the midst of an Awkward Silence, SAY SOMETHING. DO SOMETHING. don't just sit there... dwelling in the SILENCE! PRETENDING it's OKAY. i mean, HELLO. who are we KIDDING here. sigh. just a little frustration. hahaha.
but back to merriment and sunshine blah blah blah. hahahah. just kidding. back to merriment! back to sunshine! hooray! for merriment! for sunshine! okay, whatever, you get the idea.
anyway, i have decided to take it upon myself to grace the world with a list of general conversation starters to get yourself outta ANY Awkward Silence mix-up you may find yourself in. just doing my part to save the world, one poor awkward soul at a time. hahaha. im kidding, im kidding. it's not like the actual PEOPLE are awkward. just the situation.... okay, maybe it's also the people sometimes. but whatever. awkward people is simply another blog post for another time...
Christie's Friendly (Non-Judgmental, mind you!) Tips to Avoid the Awkward Silence Abyss
1. discuss what you guys do for a living - now be CAREFUL. you never want to offend the person if they turn out to be doing something that you find less reputable than usual. for instance, if the person says that they play video games and live with their parents... at the age of like forty... just make sure you smile and nod politely... and then GET THE F OUTTA THERE. hahahah. who are we KIDDING here, people. anyway. filter's back.
therefore, tread lightly at first, gauge people's comfort levels with this topic of discussion, and move forward with caution. i cannot emphasize the "moving forward with caution" bit enough. because LORD, if you dont, all i have to say is you just catapulted yourself wayyyy into the Awkward Silence Abyss.
2. discuss each other's histories - for instance, where you live now, where you grew up, where you've traveled. dude, trust me, i can GUARANTEE that this will get you at LEAST seven minutes of somewhat Non-Awkward conversation. i mean, who DOESN'T love hearing people's life stories? (well, if you don't, you can just stop reading this post right about now.) and man, you can ALWAYS spin off some sort of tangent with the places that people have been. you can always relate to said places (if you've been/lived there) or ask about their favorite spots in those places or ask about the weather (GOD, the weather. please PLEASE don't ever talk about the weather... unless you have reached the Awkward Silence Black Hole mode... in which case, you're pretty much screwed as it is and you should likely just be looking for ANY way out.)
3. if you happen to be from the same region, or know people from the same region... heck, why not start tossing some names around? this is also kind of a cautionary measure, because there are DEFINITELY some people who hate hate hate the name game... not to mention, what if you start tossing around some names of people who, like, teased said Awkward Silence partner about how fat he/she was in high school or made fun of Awkward Silence partner's four eyes in grade school... well, whatever you get the idea. but remember... it's all about developing SOME ability to tread lightly and read the situation before just diving right on in there (otherwise, who are we kidding. you're just a lost cause... oops- back to the non-judgmental phase of this blog post...)
4. discuss a current event that's SUPER popular and NOT political - again... i highly highly caution you with this one. because, hello, the whole political thing just goes without saying that things could ever-quickly spiral out of control within the course of a few seconds... well, unless you guys like MET at the democratic national convention or something... but whatever, you get the point im generally trying to get across. anyway, if the current event is pretty popular (ie: michael jackson's death, the oprah's last season, etc), then you will likely have some good conversation going for at least three minutes, because you can both partake, provide your points of views, etc. even if the Awkward Silence partner HASN'T heard about the current event, then whatever, don't FRET (hard to do in the Awkward Silence moment, i know). just start babbling on and on about it like it's the most earth-shattering thing ever, and your Awkward Silence partner is BOUND to get just as excited. (okay. maybe this works for me, because how can an Awkward Silence partner NOT get excited in the midst of the spirit fingered jubileeeeee that can only be a conversation with christieeeeeee... but i digress. you'll never know unless you give it a shot, right?)
5. books! this is one of MY favorite conversation topics, but it very well also may be that most of the people i interact with are fairly well-read (and not really people that i encounter the Awkward Silence with, but whatever). keep in mind again, though, this must be taken with a grain of salt... because i can assure you, there are plenty of people in this world who don't cherish the art of books (which is understandable and fine and totally not judgment-worthy... hahaha just kidding) so you may quickly reach a roadblock... in which case, defer up to the whole "start babbling about YOUR favorite book" phase if necessary. i mean, it's not like you have to go on for AGES... just long enough for you to think of another conversation topic while mindlessly babbling... well, whatever, if books are clearly not working in your favor then just switch to TV... one extreme to the next. and hey, while you start talking about tv, maybe you can start out by actively advertising the wonders and glories of the DVR. because, dude, i haven't come even CLOSE to finishing how wondrous and joyous the invention of the DVR is. and that is CERTAINLY one topic that will take MORE than a few minutes to dissect. and that, my friends, is a 100% christie guarantee.
anyway, so as per usual, this blog post has just gone on and on. i know, right? can you believe i actually DO experience the Awkward Silence from time to time still? i feel like it's one extreme to another with me... either i can talk and talk and talk and... well, talk... or i mute right on up. it just depends on the person, i guess. i mean, i GUESS. who really knows. multiple personalities and all that.
as long as the Maliyacular doesn't start reaching the Awkward Silence Black Hole state... oh GOD. just THINKING about that... i just got the pounding heart, the sweaty palms, the brain freeze... the complete nervous system breakdown...
sigh. and it all comes full circle, yet AGAIN, folks.
Sunday, January 9, 2011
with a title like that, you KNOW that im only like the most dainty and ladylike person ever. now i know what you all must be thinking... what in the WORLD could those two things possibly have in common?
easy peasy. they are only two of my most favorite things. ever.
and that is probably the ONLY thing that those two things have in common. haha.
this idea for a post came up earlier this week, when my team at work and i went out for lunch at grand lux (which is basically the same thing as cheesecake factory... a TON of options and HUMONGOUS portions). anyway, it had been a while since i had been out for a big lunch so why NOT go all out? and i'd never had the fried chicken platter at grand lux before and GOD, for some reason, fried chicken sounded so tempting that day. how was i supposed to know that they were going to be bringing out like a whole bucket of chicken... plus mashed potatoes... plus cole slaw? this is not my problem. it's not like i ASKED them for six sizable pieces of chicken plus enough mashed potatoes to feed a small family plus cole slaw (which i don't eat anyway... it's vegetables, isn't it?). anyway, i was quite excited to dig right in. but i could only get so far as 1.5 pieces of the fried chicken and a couple of bites of mashed potatoes. okay, granted i have a small appetite. but i really think that, typically, fried chicken would fall into the exception to that rule category. not that day, though. why not? because that day, my dear friends, that day... i'd decided to wear my spanx to the office.
now, don't get me wrong. i dont wear my spanx on an everyday basis. they are much too constricting for regular use. but that day, i'd decided to wear the spanx to the office, to suck in my stomach after a big lunch just the day before. sigh. oh the science behind the spanx, really. anyway, MAN. it was all very disappointing just how restrictive the spanx turned out to be for my fried chicken feast. i just couldn't FIT the fried chicken anywhere between the sucking in of the spanx.
so. spanx + fried chicken + me? really? are you surprised? many are when they first find out, actually. however...
okay, the spanx we'll get to in a second. let's start with the fried chicken bit. GOD I LOVE FRIED CHICKEN. hahahah. i guess you guys were expecting something a little bit more substantive than that. oh well. what're you going to do? here's the thing- it's not like i eat fried chicken everyDAY or anything. in fact, i probably eat it like once or twice a year, if that. however, it's one of those things that i truly do relish on the rare occasions that i consume it. and yes, i'm DEFINITELY one of those people who would just eat the skin if i could because, i mean, really, the meat part of the fried chicken is just not that exciting to me... not like the breaded, deep fried goodness that only the skin could provide... yum, im salivating just thinking of it. haha.
next, let's discuss the wonders and glories of SPANX. have you heard of these things? if you are a woman, you most definitely should have heard of it by now. if you are a guy... well, ive tried to do my part to educate some of the guys i know about the wonders and glories of this invention, but i think they simply get uncomfortable. haha. sigh. it's that whole inability to develop a filter that really gets me, sometimes. but whatever. openness and honesty and all that, right? right. anyway, spanx are basically this garment that kind of looks like pantyhose but is SO much more magical than pantyhose. they literally hit at your ribcage and go to mid-thigh and literally suck you in to a model-like form. well, kind of, but whatever you get the idea. did you know that beyonce wears TWO layers of spanx at LEAST when she's performing? and oprah wears spanx everyDAY?! okay, granted i dont go that far (i cant AFFORD multiple layers of spanx... it's expensive for magical undergarments... and i cant even imagine feeling that constricted on a daily basis, let's be honest), but i must admit that the times i do wear the spanx, i have this restored confidence in myself. haha. oh who am i kidding? im fairly self-confident as it is. but i think for me, the most magical part of the spanx is that it really helps with my posture, for some reason. i dont think they're designed to do so, but i do find myself sitting up straighter, more "naturally" throwing my shoulders back... haha well, whatever. ill stop providing way too much detail.
anyway, there you have it, my friends. just another day, just another blog post, just another divulge of way too much information... welcome to the maliyacular at. its. finest.
Sunday, January 2, 2011
happy new year!! how fantast is that PICTURE, right?!? that was what i woke up to on 1/1/2011. okay, i wake up to it everyday (it's My View from My Apartment) but this late morning, it looked even more spectacular than ever... so fresh and so clean... a new start... a new year... maybe it also had to do with the fact that this masterpiece of a view was shrouded in clouds and fog for the past couple of days, but whatever. the whole "fresh, clean start to a new year" sounds a lot deeper, doesn't it? and if there's one thing that the maliyacular is, it is deep. hahaha i cant even say that without giggling to myself.
so i think new years resolutions are kind of ridiculous. primarily because i think you should be constantly working to achieve a "better" you every day of the year... how oprah does THAT sound. but whatever, i can understand where people are coming from... it's like a new start and all that.
in an effort to continue to conform to societal norms, ive taken the liberty of jotting down a few new years goals for myself (doesn't "goal" sound so much more reasonable to achieve than "resolution"?)... and i already have a ridiculous story about one of them. one of my goals was to become a better cook. and by "a better cook" i mean... just learn to start cooking. here's the deal. it's not like eating turkey sandwiches or hummus and pita chips all day every day is un-fulfilling for me. however, if im going to start eating vegetables on a regular basis (oh yeah, another new years goal of mine, because quite frankly, i cant remember the last time i ate a vegetable... that wasn't tomatoes on a pizza, at least), im going to have to learn to start concocting some tasty dishes with them because you KNOW im not going to be choking down veggies raw. they disgust me. and no, i dont EVER crave veggies, thank you very much (i never understood "those" kinds of people. haha.)
alrighty, so ive had some quinoa sitting in my cupboard for MONTHS. ive had quinoa at restaurants and think it's quite delicious, so on a whim when i was in cincinnati, i had my parents pack some up for me. yeah, it's taken me this long to actually get down to making it, primarily because i had no idea where to begin. the last thing i wanted to do was go to the grocery store and stock up on all these spices and stuff to stick in the quinoa, knowing that i would never use these spices again (because, dude, spices are EXPENSIVE. i dont want to be wasting my money!)... so thanks to the glories of google and allrecipes.com, i came across a rather simplistic recipe. who knew that making quinoa could be so EASY? you just boil a bunch of water and the quinoa (and a pinch of salt, dont forget!) and let it go for like 20 minutes! i couldnt believe how easy that part was.
but then came the whole "adding a bunch of stuff" to the quinoa, because you cant really eat it on its own (it's pretty bland). anyway, so per the recipe, i went ahead and started simmering some olive oil. the recipe then calls for you to add three cloves of garlic. when i was at trader joes shopping for this recipe, i deliberately picked up a little bag of three garlic bulbs (they were selling little bags of two garlic bulbs as well), to ensure that i had enough for what the recipe called. so there i was, quinoa/water boiling in one pot, olive oil simmering in another pan, and im chop chopping my garlic bulbs. it was at this point that i stopped short and literally drew a blank as to what was considered a clove. i mean, i was literally about to dump in all three garlic BULBS when the recipe only called for three garlic cloves. thank god i used some sort of instinct and just googled "what is a clove of garlic?" in order to clarify what in the world i was supposed to be doing. thank goodness i did google that, however. i mean, can you IMAGINE how this dish would be tasting if i'd just dumped in my three bulbs of garlic? sigh, whatever, you live, you learn. and i have now learned what the heck is the difference between a bulb and a clove, thank you very much.
so anyway, crisis number one was averted. so i dump in my three (weakly chopped- i got kind of bored) garlic cloves and let that olive oil keep simmering away. this was actually going along quite nicely. i was happy enough to have caught my mistake (regarding the clove vs. bulb fiasco) before the dish was entirely ruined. anyway, so i was to let those garlic cloves simmer for about five minutes before dumping in whatever chopped veggies i wanted. the recipe called for you to chop some fresh veggies yourself. please. when i was at trader joes, i totally saw ready-made carrots/onions/celery... all chopped up already! since this was just the first of my cooking adventures, i justified this shortcut as fair and reasonable.
okay, so anyway, there i was literally just watching the cloves of garlic work with that olive oil, thinking about how peaceful my sunday had been when my peaceful thoughts were so rudely interrupted by an awfully shrill beeping.
at least i can now rest assured that my smoke detector is in full and working order.
of course, right? i mean, why WOULDN'T this happen to me? and the worst part is... it's not like i was leaving anything unattended! i was literally standing at the stove, just watching the garlic cloves simmer and my quinoa complete its boiling! what the F! ugh. whatever. i just immediately turned everything on that stove OFF (since i had no idea what was burning) and grabbed a kitchen towel and raced over to the smoke detector and started waving that kitchen towel in front of the detector, hoping against hope that that was going to work because, quite frankly, i had no idea what else i could/should be doing in this kind of an event. sigh. anyway, thankfully that did the trick and all was back to peace and merriment in just a few short minutes.
well, after THAT, you KNOW i didnt want to turn anything on my stove back on! i was scared! but whatever. i had come this far, i had to keep going, right? so, literally cringing to myself, i turned the burner feeding the olive oil/garlic clove saucepan back on (ever so gently), bracing myself for the detector to go off again. thank GOD it did not. but i didn't want to take any more chances... i just wanted to get this over and done with so i started dumping everything in all at once, stirring away as quickly as possible, certainly hoping against hope that things were getting fully cooked.
and it actually turned out okay! i mean, granted the dish is kind of bland (i guess the recipe wasn't kidding when they mentioned that whole adding some salt and pepper for taste... whoops. one shortcut i won't ever neglect again.) but whatever. it's nothing that (several) heaping teaspoons of sriracha sauce cant drown out, right? right. and now i have lunch AND dinner ready for like the next two weeks because MAN, do you KNOW how much quinoa expands when it's boiled?
anyway, here's what my dish looks like. can you see the remnants of the burning that caused the smoke detector to go off? i guess while i was just obliviously watching my garlic simmer in the olive oil, it over-simmered or whatever. anyway, you live, you learn... i guess.
with that... HAPPY NEW YEAR, everyone!! i hope you all had wonderful and safe holidays!