Saturday, December 6, 2008

...Omar, Ramble Red, and My Lost Phone

I've been in Chicago for about 3 weeks now and I still love it--nothing's changed there! I will gladly accept wind in exchange for lake effect snow!

On Thursday night I had the pleasure of meeting Omar from The Other O Show podcast!

I was very happy to meet him. Omar's show was one of the first podcasts I ever listened to. He's a great guy, you have to listen to his show if you don't already! He just moved here, so he's bringing his Southern Latin flava to the Windy City! I also met up with Tom the Ramble Redhead! He's always a fun guy to be with. And I give him props for eating food he's not really used to!

We all had dinner at the Chicago Diner, sometimes referred to as the Veggie Diner, because its all vegetarian/vegan food! I loved it. I had gyros, made with seitan.

After dinner we went to Sidetrack for a beverage. Thursday night is their "Laugh Track" night, where they play comedy skits on all the TVs. Very low key night, but it was fun to just relax a bit and have a laugh with my two guys. (=

Originally, I took the bus on the way there. The 73 Armitage bus to the 8 Halsted bus. I got there just fine, though I was nervous I'd get on the wrong one! But it was about 11 when we were ready to go home for the night, so I decided to take a cab. This is where the HOT MESS begins. I find a cab no problem, get in, tell the (young) guy, "Armitage and Leavitt." He gives me a look like I'm from another planet, then gets out his book...I don't know what was in the book..I'm assuming maps? Then he eventually says, "Ok...I take Halsted to Armitage." Yes, this is correct, so off we go. Armitage does this weird thing around the river...it doesn't really connect. You have to get on Cortland and do this weird jabberwocky maneuver...we definitely got lost. He made all these U-turns...and of course I had no idea where I was. He said he'd stop the meter at just $8, and it was his FIRST WEEK ON THE JOB...great. He couldn't have been more than 18, either. Very nice though. And actually genuinely lost. I had my phone out during the ride, right around the time he made his first U-turn...then I started to dig for my map, to try and help out...well I guess I just didn't put my phone back in my bag because when I FINALLY got home I couldn't find it anywhere. And of course I didn't catch the cab company.

So my phone is in a cab somewhere in Chicago! I suspended the service on it. Now I'm using an old phone I had in college, so I still have my number, but none of my contacts. Email, IM, Skype, send a Facebook message to me with your numbers!! I'm going to get a new one soon, but it will be the same number still. Ah! What a cray-cray ending to a fun night!

Monday, September 8, 2008

...Carrots!

*Pet Peeve of the Week*
When I see plastic bottles in the trash can and there is a recycling bin right down the hall.

I've been working soooo much lately. Its taking a toll on my body, physically and mentally. Its not a lot, but I gained a pound within the last 2 or so weeks. Blah. Its a combo of going out to eat so much and not getting a chance to work out like I normally do because of work. And its going to get cold outside soon, which puts me in a less-than-desirable mood anyway!

In August, I celebrated one year of being vegetarian! And it happened to be timed so nicely that I was also asked to be a guest host on Meat Free Radio, as you can see in the previous blog post. I mentioned I would share a recipe for sauteed carrots, which I am finally getting around to. Its so easy.

Growing up, my mom used to make cooked carrots with dinner. She would simply buy the "baby" carrots and microwave them with brown sugar. And there you have it, "cooked carrots". Mushy and orangy-brown. Ick. I never really liked carrots. And every time I ate them, I got this carrot essence sort of sensation for the rest of the day in the back of my throat. I'm weird, yes we know that already! But in this recipe, I found a way to sort of tone down the carrot flavor before they are cooked.

Here's what you do:
Take carrots, baby or not...slice them up to a desired shape. I like to take normal sized carrots and slice them into little rounds.

Fill a mixing bowl with water, and dump the carrot slices in there for about 10 minutes. Mix them around every couple minutes.
This is the same process one should do before they cook potatoes, to loosen up the starches. Or you can do this to "sweat" onions to make the flavor not as intense. It actually helped that carrot essence thing I was talking about. I had none of that.

When they're done soaking, drain them and mix in some olive oil. here is where you get creative. Add spices such as rosemary or basil. Add garlic, onions, parsley. Whatever you want to be creative with. I like to add olive oil, parsley, garlic and a little lemon juice.

Once you have all your ingredients mixed into the carrots, move them to a frying pan on the stove at about medium heat.

Now just sautee. Mix them around a lot, flip them over, make sure they don't stay in one spot. After about 10 minutes or so, they look like this!



There's really no science to this, just cook them to your liking, and season them the same way. I cooked mine until some of the slices had a little bit of brown around the edges. Olive oil helps with that effect, too. Its also fun to sprinkle some parmesan cheese on top when they just come out of the pan!

Let me know if you try this, I'm interested to see what you come up with!

Thursday, August 28, 2008

...Meat Free Radio and My Guest Appearance!


I was on a podcast, and it has been posted to iTunes already! There's a fairly new podcast out called Meat Free Radio, and they asked me to be a guest host*! Its a show about being vegetarian, but I encourage all to listen. Its not preachy by any means, and you might just learn something!

You all can listen to the show on the website, but I also encourage you to subscribe through iTunes.

Let me know what you think if you listen! Also, feel free to leave a comment on the Meat Free Radio web page and let them know you're listening.

*One of the usual hosts, Mikey Pod, was gone, so I took his spot. The other regular hosts are Tim Corrimal and Eric the Southern Boy.

Monday, May 26, 2008

...Finding a Swim Suit

Hey ladies, this one is for you.

I'm off to Vegas this week! My best friend from college is getting married to her Navy boy, finally! I'm so flippin' excited, eager, happy for her, ready to go, ready for fun! But I bet you ladies know the hardest part of going on a fabulous trip someplace warm with pools all over the place. It's not finding space in your suitcase for those 7 pairs of shoes and bags to match for the 4 days you'll be spending there. It's not all the mani/pedi/waxing/tanning you have to do before you leave in preparation. No no, its finding a swim suit.

This is a touchy issue for us ladies. You boys have it easy. You simply wear shorts, essentially. But we women have to wear pretty much our undies. But swim suits are less supportive, more colorful, and quite complicated with all their strings and elastic and criss-cross halter tops. Let's face it, bikinis are made for stick figures with no boobs and no junk in the trunk. At least, this is my personal discovery anyway. Every woman you talk to about this will have something different to gripe about when it comes to the swim suit, because we are all different. So why are all these swim suits so much the same?

The selection of swim suits in Northern Indiana isn't exactly what you would call diverse, but still, there's lots of people here who love to take vacations and want to be prepared for those vacations, so why isn't there more of a variety out here?? That's a little specific to areas like the Midwest. But I've been to Miami, I've been to beaches other places, and the beach-side shops don't offer much more, really. You can order from Victoria's Secret catalog according to your bra size, but then again, most of their suits have padding and ties and they really don't compare to a simple bra when all is said and done. Then you lose like 6 bucks on shipping. (Can you tell I've been there before?)

I've been wearing the same suit for 2 summers now. I found it at Target of all places. But come on, its a Target swim suit, 2 years is pushing it. I wanted a new one this year, especially since I'm going to Vegas! So the search began. Four months ago. I went to every single store here that sold suits. I ordered off the internet and returned and lost money on shipping. I cried. I ranted, much like I am now, only with more curse words and personal attacks on the department stores! If you know me personally, you probably know why it is so difficult for me to find a suit that I don't fall out of, however, I'm not about to advertise that on the internet for the world to read! But come on, why does this have to be so hard???

I was ready to just say, ok, I will just wear the Target suit and hope it doesn't fall apart as I swim up to the pool-side mini bar to get my daquari. But I gave one more store a second chance. I went to TJ Maxx. Then it happened. After my third time in the fitting room, I found one that semi fit! I literally had to take in sizes 6-14 to see which was right for me. I ended up with a size 12. Ok ladies, I'm a pants size 4. Among all this swim suit shopping I found out that swim suit sizes are for some reason very different than normal clothing sizes. So don't let the tag get you down! If it looks good in the mirror, buy it. That is just what I did. I got 2 different ones, too. And the thing I love about TJ Maxx...they were only $20 a piece. Oh yes oh yes.

The brand is called Jantzen. The plain dark blue tag said 88 bucks for the 2 piece. Damn! I think I really lucked out. Find Jantzen swimsuits here! If you are around a TJ Maxx or Marshall's, I suggest you go check it out. Or, if money isn't an issue, check out the store finder on their website. Chances are though, what fits for me won't fit for you. But I'd like to know if any of you ladies have found a brand that works for you. Share it with us all, enlighten us if you will! Leave a comment, or email me if you'd rather not share it with everyone. Anything to make this process easier is greatly appreciated, am I right!?

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

...Paula Deen, ya'll!!

I normally don't like Paula. She is sort of obnoxious and quite frankly her false eyelashes make me cringe a little. But I've been sick and a couch potato lately, and she was all that on was on TV Sunday afternoon, so I tuned in. She made this yummy looking lemon cream sauce, and even though I am sick (with a head cold) it made me want it! Ok, so I sort of like Paula now.

I looked for the recipe online and I can't find it! But I enjoyed it so much, I decided to blog about it. It is a very easy thing to make, and you don't have to make a lot of it, you can just make enough for you. Its very easy to eyeball, which is what I did. I don't ever really measure unless I'm baking.

Basic ingredients:
fresh parsley, chopped (shown IN the chopper!)
some onion and fresh garlic, also chopped (not shown)
milk (not shown)
sour cream
margarine (not shown)
lemon, zest and juice
parmesan cheese (fresh cheese would be better!)
pasta of your choice (Paula used linguini, I like rotini, whole grain of course)
First, chop your onions and garlic. Put some margarine in your frying pan, and get them nice and brown. My onions and garlic look a little green because I chopped them in my Cuisinart Mini Prep Plus Processor after I chopped the parsely, and didn't clean it out. hehe (= If you don't own one of those choppers, GO GET ONE NOW. Your heat should be medium to low, you don't want to burn the garlic. I have the pasta boiling on the back burner while I'm doing all this. Don't forget about it!
Once it is brown, add your dollop of Daisy. Yep, now it is time for the sour cream. Paula used A LOT. I just scooped it out and mixed it in until it seemed creamy enough. Then I added a splash of milk. Turn your heat up a little, but keep stirring it. Now you can add your parsley (shown below), lemon juice and zest. This is where you need to taste and eyeball. After that is stirred in, add your parmesan. Again, I have no recipe, so just taste and stir and eyeball. This is the beautiful part of cooking, because now it becomes not just something to eat, but something you actually made and cared about. It's like artwork. Just be creative.
When your sauce has reached your desired consistency, taste, and lemony-ness, you can take your [cooked] pasta and just plop it into the sauce pan and mix it all together. My sauce wasn't as creamy as Paula's. (I don't see how that woman isn't 500 pounds by now!) I think I also added more cheese than she did. (I LOVE cheese...) Here is what my finished product looked like:
I think the photo is a little grey..I tried getting some natural light. But it was a nice off white and parsley-colored yumminess. If you are serving this for others, add a sprig of parsley and a twist of lemon.

So there you have it! I think it took me 15 minutes to make a portion just for myself. Very good and very easy. Perfect if you don't really cook a lot. Just keep in mind that garlic can burn if the heat is up too high, and milk/cream can scorch for the same reason. Have fun with it, ya'll!!

Sunday, April 27, 2008

...How to Cook Eggs in the Microwave

When I taught my friends how to do this, a lot of them turned up their noses in disgust. How the hell can you make an egg in the microwave, and how the hell is it going to taste good? Well, this is something my mom taught me how to do in high school. I took the skill to college with me and enlightened many of my friends. I've passed it along to my single guy friends who wouldn't be able to survive without a microwave. Once you've mastered this skill, you will never forget it, and you'll want to tell all your friends!

Keep in mind, microwave times will vary. The one I'm using is pretty average, a few years old, but still powerful. If you have a really new one, take a few seconds off the time suggested. If yours is old, maybe add a few seconds. It takes some getting used to and a little practice to produce a tasty scrambled egg. So here are my instructions, in photo form!

First, your supplies. A microwave safe bowl, milk (I use skim. I have used soy milk but that never really works out. If you only use soy, omit the milk part!), cooking spray, a fork, and your desired amount of eggs. I used 2 eggs here, you can use more or less, just adjust your cook time accordingly. I also sometimes like to use one whole egg, and one egg white.


Spray the bowl with your cooking spray. Add the eggs, and a drop of milk. I eyeball it, but I'd say its about 2 tablespoons? Maybe a bit more.

Take your fork and scramble them up. Or if you're used to using a wisk, you can use that too of course. The point here is to scramble, people! Rinse the fork when you're done.

Now put it in the mic. I usually start with 30-35 seconds.

After the first cook, the eggs will look partially cooked. And in this photo there's an interesting little formation there, yea it looks gross, but this is only the first cook! Take your fork and scramble it up again.

Put it back in the mic for about 40-45 seconds. WATCH IT, now...don't leave..

It will start to puff up. This is where it takes a little "skill" to tell when it has been puffed too much. If you take it out when its not quite done, put it in for a few more seconds, but watch it again, so it doesn't get over cooked.

Ok, now we're looking like we are just about done. The eggs don't look slimy anymore (aka-not done yet!) and they're puffing themselves almost out of the bowl! When you take them out of the mic, they will deflate.

If they are done perfectly, they will be nice and fluffy, just like eggs cooked on the stove. If they are over done, they will get a lovely grey color and you probably won't want to eat them. Eggs that are over done on the stove get brown and smell icky (in my opinion...ew!!), but eggs that are over done in the microwave get a greyish color and feel rubbery. This is why you need practice!

The egg is usually in one "piece." If you are going to eat it plain, then transfer the eggs to a plate and chop/scramble them up. BUT this "piece" of egg is perfect if you are a lover of the egg sandwich. Here I've got an English muffin with some cheddar cheese. You can also add some ham or bacon! Or whatever suits your taste, it's fun to be inventive.

The cooking spray helps the egg to not stick to the bowl, but usually there is some stickage anyway, so I suggest just soaking the bowl a little with some soap in the sink before you wash it or transfer it to the dishwasher.

So there y0u have it! Really guys, once you perfect this, you will really like it. My friend who never cooks (he didn't even know how to make grilled cheese) made this for me one day to cheer me up and they were perfect. If HE can do it, anyone can!

Let me know what you think in the comments section, give me a "TASTY!" or "EW GROSS I WOULD NEVER TRY THAT HOT MESS!" I want to know! And good luck in your breakfast endeavors!

Monday, April 21, 2008

...Observations at the Gym

Ok wow, I really wanted to write another entry sooner than this! Amazingly, I had something to do every night last week after work, that NEVER happens. Then I had a half day at work Friday so I could head down South to Purdue! I haven't been back in like a year, man I was way over due. I love that place so much. I really grew up there. It was only 4 years, but I really just grew. I became who I am today. It wasn't just stuff I learned at school, I learned about life. Ha, maybe that's why tuition is so high!

So all my things I had to do last week kept me from going to the gym, something I do about 3 nights a week now. I joined in the summer of '07, so it is still fairly new to me. I never really went to a gym. In college I went to the gym sometimes, mostly with my sorority sisters when we were feeling fat! But now I do it for my health, and to help my back problems. (I've got a case of the scoliosis.)

Going to the gym on a regular basis has not only made me become healthier, but it acts as entertainment, too, if you can believe that. How many of you are regulars at a gym? You probably start to notice people's quirks and stuff like that if you go regularly. I think working out is a really personal thing. Think about it, you're trying to improve the condition of your body. Your body is a personal thing, right?? Meanwhile you're sweating, breathing heavy, you probably don't smell very nice...maybe it's because I've never been in sports, but it sort of amazes me how open people become when they visit the gym.

Locker Rooms
I do not use the locker rooms. I did in college, and I saw one too many skinny naked girls walking around. Go ahead, walk around with your skinny nakedness and make me jealous. I'm just not comfortable walking around naked from a public shower to a locker. I go to the gym dressed in my work out clothes, and leave in them, too.

The Noise, Oh the Noise
Aside from the clanking weights from the weight machine things...has anyone ever noticed the noise that men make when they are lifting weights? Heavy breathing, groaning, the random "WOO!", the counting out loud...Only in a gym can a guy lay on a bench lifting a dumbell while another guy literally stands over him and says "Come on, baby, do it!" and not have his sexual orientation questioned! (I know some of my readers are gay, now is your time to chime in and let me know what you think about THAT one! hehe) And I gota say, it's a bit creepy to be on an eliptical and have an old sweaty guy next to me breathe heavy and groan every time his pace increases.

Girls Wearing Short Shorts
Almost as bad as restaurant commercials on the TVs in the cardio area are the skinny athletic girls wearing short shorts. There is a small high school near by, and I think some girls on the volley ball team work out at my gym. There are these little tiny bathing suit material shorts they wear. They are barely shorts, more like that "boy cut" underwear for girls. Then they get on the treadmill and run for hours on end and don't break a sweat. Meanwhile I'm on the treadmill, walking at a fast pace and out of breath, watching the food porn commercials on TV planning what I'm going to treat myself with for dinner when I leave!

Old People
During the week days, if I am lucky enough to have the day off, I go around 10am and I'm surrounded by old people. I love it. They have cliques. They gossip more than the younger crowds do. There's a woman who is probably around 70 who goes around and flirts with all the men. Her hair is always perfect and she wears just the right amount of makeup. It's so cute. I want to be like her when I'm 70. Then there's the man with all the oriental looking tattoos on his arms that you can tell he got when he was in the war. That guy can bench press you under the table.

Things That Make You Cringe
Ahem. White gym shorts with no obviously underwear. T-shirts with cut off sleeves, exposing the most gross thing on a man: [sweaty] underarm hair. Women running on treadmills unsupportive sports bras. People who leave the machines and don't clean them. People who wear the same white t-shirt every time they work out, only it's not white anymore because of how much they have sweat in it. Sweaty hair. There's just something about sweaty hair that makes me cringe. (Do we see a trend in the stuff that makes me cringe? I mean come on, they offer free towels!)

Well that about sums it up. It's like people transform themselves into another species when they are at the gym. I wonder what I look like to other people on the treadmill in my soft pants and old fraternity t-shirts, staring at the french fries on the Steak n' Shake commercial. Something I'm doing must be working, because I tried on a pair of knee-high boots this weekend and they wouldn't zip all the way! Maybe I should cut back!

So tell me about your gym experiences! Whether you are a regular or not, I'm sure you've got something to say. Oh, and a few people have asked me-you don't have to be a member or have a Google account to leave a comment. Just click the "Name/URL" option and type your name, you don't need to put a URL. Hopefully I will write again soon, my week isn't as full this time! Happy weightlifting!

Sunday, April 13, 2008

...Why I Started a Blog

I've always been a little behind on the times. I got my first cell phone in my sophomore year of college, which was only about 4 and a half years ago. I ran Windows 95 on an ancient Packard Bell until my Junior year when it saw its last blue screen of death. And up until Christmas '06, I still used a "real" camera...with film! (I was gifted with a Cannon Power Shot SD600!) So its 2008 and everyone and their mother (except me and my mother) have a blog, so here it goes!

A little about myself...I'm a 25 year old graphic designer living in South Bend, Indiana...for the time being. Someday I hope to move to a city and maybe pursue something a little different than designing. That's all up in the air right now, and honestly, it makes my stomach churn thinking about it, so we're going to skip this subject for now! I was born in Brooklyn, NY. The only child. Then my mom, dad, and I moved to Ohio because my dad's job relocated. And when I turned 12, I wasn't the only child anymore! My little brother, Tyler, was born on December 25, 1994. Then a little down the road, summer of '96 I believe, ('97?) my dad's job relocated again, and we moved here. I would so much rather be in NY! But what can ya do. Here's a photo of the little guy, from a couple years ago (he'll hate me for putting this up here! He's 13 now!):Hmm what else... I graduated from Purdue University in 2005 with a Bachelor of Arts degree. Best four years of my life. Not only was it school, it was a new life. I really learned a lot about myself then. Partied way too much. Met some beautiful people who changed my life forever. Like my friend, Ashley, who is getting married in VEGAS in May! I can't wait for that!! Here's a spot on Purdue's campus where I loved to stop and sit:Most of the readers of this blog are made up of friends, of course, but also some pod casters, and probably a few of their listeners. (Listenturds?) Thank you for taking the time to read about my life and whatever I feel the need to talk about. Feel free to leave comments! Tell me if anything looks weird, or if you can't read the text, or if photos don't show up for you. I want this to be legible and reader-friendly! Plus, I'm a designer, so I'm used to people giving me constructive (and a lot of times, not so constructive) criticism.

The length of the blogs will vary. This is probably a little long. I don't want to bore any of you! If you have a suggestion of a topic, just email or leave a comment. I love to cook and take photos of what I cook, maybe I can do some step-by-step cooking blogs! If I missed your blog or pod cast in my list of links on the sidebar, let me know and I will add it! Thanks for reading, and don't forget to subscribe via the RSS feed! (Which is hope is just automatically added to these things...I don't use the computras!!)

-Lauren

Edit: Since some of my readers may not be familiar with how to post a comment... (ahem, mom and grandma) You don't have to register or anything. Just email me and I'll tell you how. Very simple!