My inlaws, Donna and Eric, are visiting for a few days so I am behind. I will have several daily photos to catch up on.
If you are looking for me, I will be consuming as much butter as possible before New Years, when I will be undergoing operation seasonal butter recovery.
If you ever come to Chicago and want to eat at a neighborhood spot that is AMAZING, go to the Hopleaf. Go for many hours. Wear elastic waist pants. Try the mussels. Try the mac’n'cheese. I think there at also about 2394934 beers on the menu. I am about to have a food baby.
Yes, he is in a wheelchair.
Hand painted detailing.
What can I really say about this? It is the weirdest Christmas present I have ever gotten. Although, now that the rest of my family knows about Etsy’s Alchemy function, I am sure it will not be the last. You can basically post an idea that you have for a custom project on the website. Then artists will get in touch with you and make it for you if they think they have the right skills or interest. I will update this post with the name of the artist that got to make this little guy when my brother gets back to me with her name. (Update: The artist is Amy Lira.)
Patrick is truly one of a kind, and will be hanging out with Murray in the entryway of our apartment. I am hoping that his injury will heal with time. He is enjoying the wheelchair though, and all the extra attention he is getting. He was never much for exercise anyway. Patrick is pleased to hear that he is now on the Internet, as he wishes to be famous one day. I will relay any messages/fan mail that you may have for him.
We just got back from the Christmas rental house that my mom’s side of the family rented in Michigan city. I am lucky that I didn’t have to travel to 4 different Christmas celebrations like many people have to do these days. It makes for a much more relaxing holiday when you can just wear your pajamas and eat food with your family for a few days. Here are some happiness photos. There is more than one…this is bending the rules slightly. Again, get your own blog.
Meerkat in stocking!
Jordan and Justin making "Bienchers"
Justin rolling out the dough
Cutting the dough
Ice walk to the beach after dinner. 3-6 inches of ice on road.
Shoreline where the waves created ice waves.
There is one more photo of a certain gift of a certain special squirrel that will be uploaded soon. His name is Patrick and he has had a long journey. He is resting now and in no mood for a photo shoot. Yes I got a squirrel for Christmas. He is one of a kind though…you will see. Yes, this may happen again. Yes, I have asked you not to do this.
Overall the Christmas house was a success. The hateful pull out couch mattresses a dreadful bruise inducing failure. The puzzle a success. The ice a failure. The gifts a success. The paying off of one’s brother for a better sleeping situation a failure. The walk to the beach a success…unless you were improperly dressed…I of course was properly wrapped in down. The slipping on ice and falling on head a failure. The bienchers* a success.
*This is a dumpling that my grandparents have made for special celebrations or holidays since I can remember. My grandma grew up in China and brought the recipe back over. It is not spelled or pronounced bienchers…but we are mostly hoosiers and can’t help it. You have to roll out the dough, but circles, fill the dough with the meat and veggie filling, pinch closed (called bowing the bienchers), boil them, dip them in soy and vinegar, and eat no less than 50 of them if you are doing it properly. Grandma and Grandpa are passing down the recipe and would like to see more participants in the production of the bienchers. We are slowing catching on. It was fun to see Justin and Jordan rolling out the dough.)
If you look into the green ornament, you can see a blob creature dressed in down. That is me.
This is the best house on the corner of my block. They have an amazing yard in the summer where a lot of neighbors hang out in hammocks and eat watermelon and play with dogs. It is a little too nice. I plan to get to know them and see if they are robots. The front yard is always tastefully decorated and is a really pretty gateway to the rest of the street.
This photo was taken a couple hours before I walked into the basement to find a pipe had burst and water spraying all over. Thanks to Justin’s dad Eric, all was fixed via phone from Handymanville Colorado. Yay!
I am off to pack for Michigan City Christmas house with my mom’s side of the family. Weather is still gross. Roads are bad. I love trains.
Yesterday was the second day of negative temps. It is days like that I can’t believe I live here. The first day of negatives, I didn’t have to leave the house, which was fine with me. Justin got us emergency macaroni and cheese supplies and things were OK. Yesterday was miserable. AND when I got to work, I took off my coat and outer layer of pants but had to leave on the hat, scarf, boots, vest, and GLOVES….grrr. I work inside. In an office. So. The only two things that gets Chicagoans through the winter is eating and talking about summer. Ahh Chicago summers. I just got chills thinking about it…in a good way. So my daily pic of happiness from yesterday is from inside my head. WAIT! That is cheating! No it’s not. This is my blog. Get your own.
Here is my backyard on a lovely day in the summer. It kept me warm yesterday:
In my first blog entry I mentioned that one of the reasons that I started writing this thing was my exploration of early journal entries. There are some interesting things that turned up. The following is a diagram about writing:
I still have to agree with my reasons for writing here. Especially the “imagenation” part. And in the “Topics” category, I was sure to cover off on the all important category of “anything.” In honor of my grade school self, I will adhere to this strictly.
Illustrating or adding a photo certainly adds meat to my entries. I am still a big fan of this. Take this beautifully rendered portrait of Bette Midler for example:
I love recycling
I also really like(d) to talk about food:
I love the time stamp here. And the proposed question. I think I wanted comments. I should have included a helpful recipe for apples. Besides food, my family was a hot topic. After sorting through many drawings of my mom, dad, and brother, this one is my favorites. Other embarrassing photos of my brother can be found in many online photo albums. Why should this blog be sacred?
Lets just acknowledge that my self esteem as a child was not an issue:
Don't you think?
MMMMMLLLLLLlllll. Let’s also agree that “Tickle Me Pink” is the best color in the Crayola box of 64 crayons with the sharpener built into the back of the box. It should be used to color barns, pigs, and sometimes unicorns.
As I got a little older another theme comes to light. At some point I completely lost my patience for current life and just COULDN’T WAIT. This still applies today, such as waiting for Justin to graduate law school, but I am working more on my patience. It is not my best virtue. I will try harder:
You get the point. But I was in high school. And of course I couldn’t wait to get out. I have no journals or blogs from college, but I am sure I couldn’t WAIT to graduate and get a job. I am always looking forward to the next step in life. The good part about this perpetual anticipation is that I feel like things are always improving as time goes on. The obvious bad part of this is I may drive Justin nuts and I also do not live in the moment as much as I could be. I have things pretty good right now. There is a lot to look forward to, but I can also see future self looking back at my life in a few years and realizing how great things really were. I need to know that now. I think I am getting better at this.
I leave you with a couple well documented and illustrated thoughts from my young self that my present self would whole heartedly agree with:
Today it averaged -3 degrees during the day. This calls for hibernation.
Last night we went to a friend’s surprise birthday party in Wicker Park. This meant waiting for the Damen Bus for a bit in the snow. Justin was a good gift carrying husband. This is the vegetarian photo for the day.
If you like meat, feast your eyes on the Damen #50 Meatcake:
This is really just a meatloaf, but it was for a birthday party and served at the cake. So meatcake seems right. It looks and sounds kind of gross, but it is very good. People took seconds.
I combined two recipes to make it. Emeril’s cocktail meatballs and a basic meatloaf recipe had a delicious meat baby. Here it goes:
- 3 pounds lean ground beef
- 1 cup crushed buttery round crackers (Ritz)
- 1-1/2 cups shredded Cheddar cheese
- 4 eggs, beaten
- 1 cup finely chopped yellow onion
- 1 tablespoon of olive oil
- 6 tablespoons grated Parmesan
- 6 tablespoons milk
- 6 teaspoons Creole mustard
- 3 teaspoons minced garlic
- 1 1/2 teaspoon dried basil
- 1 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
- 1 1/2 teaspoon dried parsley
- 1 1/2 teaspoon Emeril’s Essence, (recipe follows)
- 1 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 3/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
- 1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
- 3/4 teaspoon hot red pepper sauce
- 1 cup ketchup
- 1/2 cup grated yellow onions
- 1 teaspoon minced garlic
- 1/4 cup packed light brown sugar
- 1/4 cup red wine vinegar
- 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
- 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
- 1 teaspoon salt
Essence (Emeril’s Creole Seasoning) *note* this makes a good amount of the seasoning to save for other recipes…you only need to use 1 1/2 teaspoons of it for this meatloaf.
- 2 1/2 tablespoons paprika
- 2 tablespoons salt
- 2 tablespoons garlic powder
- 1 tablespoon black pepper
- 1 tablespoon onion powder
- 1 tablespoon cayenne pepper
- 1 tablespoon dried leaf oregano
- 1 tablespoon dried thyme
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
Saute the yellow onions in the olive oil until translucent.
In a large bowl, combine all the ingredients–including the sauteed onions–for the meatloaf. Mix well with your hands. Transfer to a 9×13 baking dish.
Make the sauce by combining all the ingredients in a medium bowl, whisking to dissolve the sugar and combine. Adjust the seasoning, to taste. Spread the sauce over the top of the meatloaf.
Cover the baking dish, walk to the bus stop. Wait. Ride Damen #50 bus for awhile in a snowstorm. This will mix the flavors nicely. Do not remove the meatcake from the seat next to you so others can sit down.
When you arrive at your destination, bake until the meat is cooked through, or about 40 minutes. While baking, talk about the meat as if it is a cake. Frighten the guests by the idea of a meatcake. Talk about the scene in Titus where they serve a similar dish. Remove from the oven and serve immediately. Get seconds.
Here is yesterday’s photo. I love turning the final corner on my walk home from the train.