Tag Archives: activities

photo friday: what (a start to) a weekend

7 Aug

WWDTM at night

Last weekend was a big one for Summer in Chicago–Lollapalooza invaded the city, and along with it billions of people jamming out to their favorite bands.

I, being as easily annoyed by crowds as I am, spent most of the weekend on the far edges of Grant Park if I even got remotely near it, listening to Lolla from afar, and that was just fine by me. If you can think of a better way to hear Sir Paul McCartney rock out Hey Jude and Let Her Be than on a boat in the harbor where the acoustics are wonderful, then please, do tell me. Because so far that’s the best way I’ve discovered.

Anyshoes, what was even more exciting for this NPR nerd was on Thursday night while stages for Lolla were still being set, and sound checks reverberated just a field away, Swede, our foreign exchange student Emily, and I went to a live taping of Wait, Wait, Don’t Tell Me in Millennium Park. This was Swede’s and my third taping of the show, and while it could not have been a more beautiful night, and while there is something to be said for packing a picnic with a couple bottles of wine to take to the taping, and while it felt like just the most lovely soft city summer night experience, there is something to be said for the indoor tapings. For one, you can see the panelists and their expressions up close. And for two, you can buy stuffed Carl Kasell dolls before the show.

And who doesn’t need a stuffed Carl Kasell doll?

and introducing….

17 Jun

Last summer, I never told you about how I was the Greatest Gardener On The Planet, did I?

(Yes, initial caps even on the articles. I’m That Good.)

I’m guessing I probably did not. Which is a shame, because I was. And probably still am.

In Summer 2014, I discovered that I have a green thumb galore. Specifically when it comes to plants in pots on my balcony. I had four plants—a veritable forest—each of them named and special in my heart. There was Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler, the basil plant; Vivian, the tomato plant; Clive the Chive; Dilbert the dill plant. They all thrived throughout the summer months, and I was in my element tending to them and only freaking out mildly when I’d discover that overnight a spider had spun an intricate web between Vivian and the balcony railing.

To say I was happy with my balcony garden would be an understatement. Let’s consider for a moment that the year before when I had a (nameless) tomato plant that produced all of seven tomatoes.


And while those seven tomatoes were a semi-proud moment, last summer’s bounty blew that shit out of the water. Seriously, Vivian especially was incredibly rambunctious in her production last summer, popping out tomatoes well into October. Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler also held her own, and Clive the Chive would regenerate his skinny-stalked self within days of my snipping him down.

It goes without saying, then, that I expect this year to be equally as phenomenal, if not extraordinarily better. Because, as I mentioned, I am The Greatest Gardener On The Planet.

I’ve changed things up a bit in the balcony garden this year, partially because Clive the Chive (who is supposed to be a perennial) did not return, and partially because I wanted to try expanding my gardening gloves. This year, I have five—FIVE!—plants nestled on my balcony, ready and waiting for my deft, agile hands to tend to them with kindness and love, and also shoo away the g-d cats and dog when they get at little too nibbly at the leaves.

So, without further ado, I’d like to introduce to you this year’s balcony garden stars, all of whom will, if they know what’s good for them, provide me with a cornucopia of herbs and vegetables.

We have Fine Girl, a Brandywine tomato plant (the dog already shows a suspicious amount of interest in her)

Watch it, dog.

Watch it, dog.

Franklin, the basil plant

Oh, Franklin. I do hope you make it past July.

Oh, Franklin. I do hope you make it past July.

Pepper, the mint plant


And Clooney, the rosemary plant (the g-d cats seem particularly taken with her; since Clive the Chive did not return, I have a feeling that Clooney will bear the brunt of their gnawing if I’m not careful)


These were all starter plants that I repotted two weeks (no judging) after I bought them at the farmer’s market, but I wanted to also try growing something from seed, as I’d had such success with Dilbert last summer. This summer, I decided to plant cilantro from seed, because thank the good lord above I do NOT have the gene that makes cilantro taste like soap and honestly, I can’t get enough of the herb. If I could walk around with a bunch of cilantro in hand to sniff whenever I wanted and not look like a complete weirdo, I would. For now I will settle for inconspicuously inhaling and snuffling cilantro-scented candles.

ANYWAY, the point is I also planted cilantro seeds, and now there are a few buds peeking through the dirt. It’s like a miracle! Of nature! That I made happen! (Then again, are we surprised? I am The Greatest Gardener On The Planet.) Hard to tell, though, if this is actually cilantro, or if I’ve been fertilizing weeds the past couple of weeks, but either way I’ve decided to name her Nadia.


Meanwhile, the rest of the plants seem to be doing….well. While I am The Greatest Gardener On The Planet, Franklin struggled for a bit there, as did Fine Girl, but I think they’re on the up and up. Pepper is growing like, well, like a mint plant, that is to say: We will soon have to move out of our condo due to mint infestation. Clooney seems to eat up the summer sun, and if all goes the way I’m hoping, she’ll stick around well into winter.

Welcome, Summer. And welcome home, balcony garden loves.

photo friday: the lord giveth

8 May
Photo courtesy of Swede

Photo courtesy of Swede

A couple weeks ago, Swede and I headed down to Munster, Indiana for our first ever Dark Lord Day experience. Friends of ours had guest tickets, and graciously offered them to us, and while crowds and beer and crowded beer are not my most favorite things in the world, I was intrigued enough by the reputation of the event, and the once-a-year-beer-release, to be all, “Sure! I’ll go!”

And when the actual day arrived, the sky broke loose and dumped a great lake’s worth of rain on northwest Indiana.

All that aside—the waiting for two hours in the rain to get into the event, the waiting in line in the rain for another 90 minutes to buy the special release beer, the woman carefully moving a garter snake from one mud pit right in the path of sopping, slipping beer drinkers to another mud pit where the snake wouldn’t get trampled—it was one of the more intriguing beer events I’ve attended. They don’t mind if you bring in your own food and beer. There’s a friendly charge in the air that entices you to make friends with strangers, and share your beer with them, all of you geeking out over beers from other parts of the nation, the world, that you’ve never tried, and were it not for this kumbaya beer fest, you probably would never been able to try them.

And that’s pretty cool.

the truth

21 Jul

Over Christmas I was at Tipsy McStagger’s, enjoying a beer in the basement. Mare said, “Girl. Have I got a song for you.”

And lo! How my heart wept with joy. Finally, someone understands me! The Lemonheads understand me!

One difference, though. I never lied about being the outdoor type. I like doing outdoor activities quite  a lot, actually (see: the majority of my trip to the Land of Snow and Bears), but I have never purported to be willing to sleep in tents. I have always promoted my love of air conditioning. Ask The Swede, he’ll tell you. On our first date, which wasn’t our first date, but he likes to think it was our first date and he’s pretty so I’ll let him continue thinking that, he told me where he lived and described it as a “happy little hippie village.” In a Rain Man-like response I just started stuttering, “I don’t camp. Yeah…I…I don’t camp. I don’t camp.” Over and over for a good solid minute before The Swede looked at me oddly and said, “Okay, I won’t ever make you go camping.”

(What camping had to do with the happy little hippie village description? I think it went something like this in my faulty little noggin: hippies=tree huggers=nature=people spending time in nature without showering or sleeping with screens on their windows and oh my God I hate mosquitos and I like locked doors = I don’t camp. See? Total sense.)

Besides, Evan Dando has a point: What if there is something on TV that’s never shown again?

Loaf, Loaf, Loaf

3 Jun

Now that the weather is consistently nicer outside, even, dare I say it, hot (but then again, what I think is hot, or too-warm weather, is not so much to other people. This is what happens when you are part polar bear), I have a very strong desire to loll about reading books. Summer, to me, is book reading season, plain and simple. Well, all year long is book reading season for This Girl, it’s just enhanced and intensified in the summer. Growing up, summer – particularly those summers before I could drive and didn’t have a job and didn’t have much to do other than play softball a couple nights a week – reading was pretty much all I did during the summer. I’d go to the library with my mom, check out a teetering tower of books, go home, loll about in an air conditioned room, and get lost in a book for the entire day, sometimes until the wee hours of the morning, which was totally fine because I didn’t have anywhere to be so sleeping until 11 am was normal.

You can understand, then, that these days this desire to loll about is seriously harangued by things like work, and its collaborative arm of paying my rent. As my industry does not offer me the same working schedule as, for example, the teaching profession, my summers are mostly spent cooped up in my office staring at a Word document rather than staring at the pages of a book. Total bummer. I think more industries should have a work schedule like that of teachers – work really intensely for 9 months out of the year, and then get a 3 month break. Instead, we’re stuck with work really intensely for 12 months out of the year and get two weeks vacation. It totally sucks. Alas.

But in an effort to stay positive, I’ve decided that as much as I possibly can I’m going to make this summer very summer vacation-esque. Make it as footloose and fancy free as I can manage in my off-work hours, which could be tricky, but after this extended winter during which I feel like I ended up hibernating a good portion of, I’m itching to Do Things. Including, of course, lolling about reading books. Obviously, as it’s my favorite thing to do, it’s #1. But I’m not opposed to activities, lest I start getting Book Bum, that soreness you feel from sitting or laying about in one position for too long because you forgot to move, so engrossed were you in your reading.

So what else? What other activities can I add to the list? What’s on your Summer Fun List?