Tag Archives: nerd alert

checking in

12 Jul

It’s July, which by my math and calendar* means we are more than halfway through the year. Which means that seven months ago we all lolled about on our couches in a fog of cheese and leftover cookies and made a bunch of promises to ourselves, the universe, and our dog that we vaguely intended to keep, though in the far corner of our brains knew would be packed away like so many boughs of holly by February 5.

So! How are those New Year’s Goals** working out for you? Has anybody actually tackled any? Have any actually lasted beyond Martin Luther King, Jr.’s birthday?

Ahem.

waves raised hand wildly

Yes, actually, I have. And yes, actually, they have.

And yes, I’m totally tooting my own horn.

(toot! toot!)

How can I not? It’s not every year—or any year, for that matter—that I can actually say I have successfully completed or am successfully in the process of completing my New Year’s Goals. Or completing anything, really. (What? Mine is a world of inspired intentions.) So I’m going to celebrate the shit out of these.

Goal 1: Make one new ice cream flavor a month

What’s the point of having an ice cream maker if you don’t actually use it? Ever since I received this kitchen appliance two Christmases ago, I’ve had a steady stream of homemade ice cream go through my kitchen, much to Swede’s happiness. But this year I felt like I needed to expand my ice cream horizons, and put some of my Pinterest pins to the test.

And now this poor ice cream maker doesn’t know what’s hit it. Entirely possible I may blow out the motor by August.

I’ve made seven new flavors so far this year (I made two in March, because it was my birthday month and…well, it was my birthday month is the best reasoning I can come up with) (then again, do I really need a reason to make two new ice cream flavors in one month?). Some were better than others, but even the ones that were only meh were still good.

January: Red velvet ice cream with a cream cheese swirl

February: Brown sugar bourbon ice cream

March: Creamsicle ice cream; lemon mascarpone ice cream

April: Baklava ice cream

May: Mint chocolate chip (such a classic flavor, yet one I’d never actually made)

June: White chocolate blackberry

Our favorite has been the brown sugar bourbon flavor, with the lemon mascarpone a very close second. Tell your friends.

 

Goal 2:

<crickets>

<twiddles thumbs>

Huh.

Totally thought I had accomplished one of the other goals on my list.

No?

Okay! Just the one goal then. But! That’s one more thing I’ve done/am doing. Let me just extend my Go Go Gadget arms and pat myself on the back again.

Well done, me.

 

So as to be completely transparent, you should know that for this one goal I can claim as successful (so far), there are at least 63 that have been failed somewhat and terribly.

Write how many words a month on the novel I’ve been thinking about for 10 years? Okay, I’ve written some. I’ll give myself partial credit.

Exercise how often? Huh. Not so much.

Make fresh pasta using the pasta maker we were given at our wedding shower two years ago? Actually, I attempted that one, only to have the motor on our KitchenAid mixer burn out. We have the parts to fix it, we just…have yet to fix it.

But that one! That one goal! I’m totally making it on my ice cream goal!

I encourage you all to look back at your own statements of intent, your New Year’s Goals, or whatever you want to call them. Did they fall by the wayside? Are they even valuable or interesting goals to you anymore? If they are, restart them. Give them a go. See how far you get. If they’re not, screw ‘em. Don’t waste your time busting your ass toward a goal you couldn’t give a hoot about. What’s the point in that? If there’s something more intriguing you want to work toward, why aren’t you doing it? Do it! Do it now! Because that’s the thing—no one says your yearly or monthly or daily goals have to start the first of the year. There are 365 days in a year, you guys,*** and any day, any day at all, is a good day to start.

*You may want to double-check me on that one. Math and calendars have never been my strong suit.

**I call them goals because resolutions are just asking to be broken.

***Seriously, check me on that one.

things i’ve been meaning to tell you: june 2017

7 Jun

One: I’ve come to the conclusion that 87% of children’s books are F’d. Up. I’ve already mentioned the fact that Jamberry? Motherf-ers had to be hiiiiigh when they wrote that shit. And now, I have to say I take umbrage with the book Frederick.

Do you know the story? A little family of field mice, getting ready for winter, and while most of them are running around collecting wheat and corn there’s little Frederick, collecting words and colors.

Words and colors.

Words and colors aren’t going to feed you and keep you warm in the winter, dammit!

Please don’t misunderstand me. Whether you can tell or not, I’m a writer. Words are incredibly important to me. Colors, too. But you know what? I’m pretty sure that I could gather some words and colors at the same time I was gathering some of the harvest for our winter hibernation. It’s called multi-tasking, Frederick.

Two: The other day my gym was celebrating its 12th anniversary. There were balloons! And free giveaway things! And food! And booze! And all I have to say about that is if my gym gave away food and booze regularly I would go there a hell of a lot more often.

Three: There has been a significant lack of learning in my life. Sure, sure, I know what you’re thinking: Every DAY is a new learning experience. And it’s true! It is! And that’s great!

But I still want to learn things.

So I signed up for a cake decorating class.

All About Buttercream!

If that’s not a class description that will lure you in, then I’m not sure you and I should speak anymore. That would be like turning your nose up at a class called, “Let’s Eat All The Melted Cheese.” If you can’t get behind that then you and I will have to relegate ourselves to curt nods in passing when we see each other.

I said good day.

Anyway, I’ve picked up quite a lot in this short, four-week class. I can make rosettes! And roses! And primroses! And daffodils! I can make all the flowers! And swag-things that go around the edges of a cake! And shell-borders!

20170527_124904

Making buttercream roses? Surprisingly easier than I anticipated. I’m going to flower the hell out of all the cupcakes near and far.

But you know what I haven’t yet learned?

How to straight up frost a g-d cake.

And so I continue with the learning.

Four: I went for a massage last week and it was wonderful. But there’s always that strange moment when the massage therapist leaves the room, you get undressed and get on the massage table, and then the therapist knocks to come back in. At that point—when she or he knocks—what am I supposed to say? “I’m ready”? Or perhaps, “Come in”? I feel the same way when I’m at the doctor’s office, sitting in my paper gown, waiting for the physician to enter.

Neither of those phrases seems right to me. “I’m ready” sounds oddly bizarre, when you think about the after part of that statement. “I’m ready…for you to start digging your elbows into my back!” Or, “I’m ready…for you to palpate my stomach to make sure there are no foreign objects lingering about.”

“Come in!” doesn’t seem right either. It’s not my home, for God’s sake. It’s a massage studio. Or a women’s clinic. I’m not about to serve my massage therapist tea, or offer my midwife cookies.

Maybe I should go with, “Door’s open!”
What say you, Interwebs?

photo friday: blessings

2 Jun

God bless the husband

God bless the husband who doesn’t refer to taking care of his child as babysitting, he refers to it as being a father.

God bless the husband who doesn’t do things the same way the wife would do them, and doesn’t care, because he’s confident that his way works just as well, or better.

God bless the husband who encourages his wife to get away for a couple hours to drink tea and take a break from the child and the dog and the husband and the bootbox of a condo.

God bless the husband who speaks up when he needs to get away for a couple hours to drink tea and take a break from the child and the dog and the wife and the bootbox of a condo.

God bless the husband who works hard to be the best partner he can be.

a new normal, part 1

1 Mar

When Baby McSwedolish was first born, people would often comment on how much our lives must have changed now that there was a baby. A baby! So many new and different things with a baby!

And it’s true! SO many new and different things with a baby!

And surprisingly, or maybe not, so many things have stayed the same.

Change, big change, like having a baby, or adopting a dog, or buying a new couch, can be hard. Getting used to new routines is difficult for people (me) sometimes. But I’ve found that when I step out of my own way for a moment and really look at my new normal, the comfort of my old ways is still there, mingling with the new ways, all of it mixing together to create a hodgepodge of life.

Because that’s what life is, a hodgepodge.

Here, a few examples:

Things That Have Stayed the Same

One: I still hate getting out of bed in the morning. Yes, it is absolutely brilliant to wake up to the sound of sweet baby coos and goos. And I never really understood the feeling of wanting to burst and cry with happiness at the same time until the first time I peeked my head over the bassinet and Baby McSwedolish locked eyes with me and then smiled and laughed as if to say, “Oh it’s YOU! I KNOW you! I’m so glad to see YOU again!” It is a daily shot through the heart and gut of pure, unadulterated bliss.

But in the five minutes before I peek my head over the bassinet, when I have poked at the off button on my alarm, and I have stumbled out of bed, go to the bathroom, brush my teeth, I still resent the ever living fuck out of every single person on the planet. I resent Swede for still being in bed, I resent Juniper for still being in bed, the cats are awake with me but I always resent them, just even more. The bus driver cruising the bus down Michigan Avenue? He’s a jerk as well. At that point in the day, I resent Bob Mariano, the CEO of Mariano’s grocery store, which is not only my happy place, but sells some of the best bacon I’ve ever had. I’ve never met him, but he still is a target of my ire. Because that’s how it is those first five minutes. That has not changed.

By the time I put my contacts in I’ve forgiven each and every one of you (you’re welcome). And by the time I poke my head over the bassinet and Baby McSwedolish bestows upon me his gummy smile, my ire is long gone, and the world begins to make sense(ish) again.

Two: I am still inordinately fixated on poop. I thought Swede and I talked about poop a lot when we got the dog. Now? Now sometimes it feels like the only thing we ever talk about. Because now there are two beings—the dog and Baby McSwedolish—whose poop we have to be conscious of. Are each of them pooping daily? Is it normal poop? What color was it? Was it a lot or a little? Did it explode in an inappropriate location?

Since we were so fixated on the bowel movements of our dog, it wasn’t a terribly big change to incorporate a fixation on the baby’s bowel movements as well. And you know, just like at the vet, when we take Baby McSwedolish to the doctor, they ask a lot of questions about his pooping regularity and consistency as well. So the poop aspect of our lives, while it has increased, has also remained relatively unchanged.

Three: I still think about time management way more often than I’d like, and I still utterly fail at it on the regular because I want to Do! And See! And Be! Everything. Before Baby McSwedolish graced us with his presence, I like to think that I’d gotten pretty good at managing my time, and making room for all the things I needed and/or wanted to do: work, freelance work, badly frosting cakes, hanging out with Swede & Friends, writing this blog, writing a book, cooking amazing three course meals, showering. Some days I worked my time management skillz better than others (some days: See: utter failure, as mentioned above), but every day required a thorough briefing in my mind about what needed to happen that day, and how I could make it all happen, even if, when looking at the To Do list, there was no way Jesus Christ Himself, who can literally perform miracles, could ever accomplish everything that was on the list.

And I still do it. I still make preposterous lists of things to accomplish in one day. I’m not entirely sure why, but I do, and it feels good, and just like before Baby McSwedolish came along, some days I’m better at saying to myself, “Well, you got one thing crossed off your list of 50: YOU PUT ON PANTS!! Congratulations! You are AMAZING!,” than others.

I’m not saying that this is the best way to handle time, I’m saying it’s how I handle it. And I’m not saying I handle it very well, or even very badly, I’m saying that my high expectations of myself are still there, post-baby, though perhaps a little mellowed.

 

 

Despite being someone who does not always embrace change easily, I’ve found lately that I like the new, and I like the old, and I like it all mixed together. I quite enjoy my little hodgepodge and it regular irregularities. I like these things that have stayed the same yet are tinged with a new hue because there’s another person in our household. I didn’t know these new colors could exist, and yet, here they are.

 

things i’ve been meaning to tell you: february 2017

8 Feb

One: Why is damn near impossible to find a face lotion that is A) cruelty free, 2) has SPF, and III) doesn’t cost an arm and a leg? I don’t think this is terribly too much to ask. I’m just trying to keep my skin, the animals, and my wallet as safe as possible. If anyone has any suggestions, please let me know. Seriously. And for the record, I’ve tried the Yes For fill-in-fruit-or-vegetable here ones, and I don’t care for them because they’re so damn thick I look like a lifeguard from a bad 80s movie.

Two: The other day I had an epiphany when hearing the song Hook by Blues Traveler. The chorus, the hook, if you will, is “the hook brings you back,” NOT “the heart brings you back,” the latter of which I thought were the lyrics for the past twenty-odd years. Why? Hard to say. But the song makes so much more sense now!

In other news, I still have no clue what the shit Eddie Vedder is actually saying in the song Yellow Ledbetter.

Also, this reminds me that I still really love the band Better Than Ezra.

God, I love 90s music.

Three: Baby McSwedolish’s godfather Wild Turkey Dave gave us an Alexa, and one of my favorite features is you can ask her to play lullabies, and she magically emits a station that is full of sweet songs to soothe Baby McSwedolish. There are some classical hits, some songs that are calming, some songs that have become favorites (such as Return to Pooh Corner by Kenny Freaking Loggins).

And then there are plinky-plinky lullaby versions of…Guns N Roses’ Sweet Child ‘O Mine. As well as Journey’s Don’t Stop Believing. And Bette Davis Eyes.

WTF?

It’s not a little disconcerting, to be tidying up the kitchen, listening to the coos and whines of your baby as he tries valiantly to not put himself to sleep, and you’re ignoring him and humming along and then you stop and think, “Wait, what am I humming? What are we listening to? Is that Lullaby Shakira?”

And it sure it.

And it’s not a little fantastic. It’s amazong.*

Four: One of the things I managed to accomplish on my maternity leave, besides becoming inordinately annoyed by certain TV theme songs, was making a cheesecake.

It wasn’t just any cheesecake, mind you, it was a cheesecake that I’ve been wanting to make for nine years.

NINE. YEARS.

It’s this cheesecake.

It has always looked very involved and mildly intimidating to me, but I decided that it was time to just buck up and do it A) Because for God’s sake, did you not read the part about NINE YEARS? And 2) I could make it for the 2nd Annual Friendsgiving, which means that if it sucked or I screwed it up royally it really wouldn’t matter because everyone would be drunk by the time we got to dessert anyway.

Ta da!

Thankfully I didn’t screw it up, and everyone else thought it was a resounding success.**

I thought it was only okay.

The cheesecake itself, and the chocolate ganache topping were extraordinary, I will give the recipe that. But the part that I was most excited about—the pistachio crust—was a huge disappointment to me. It wasn’t really connected, so to speak, to the rest of the cake. You just sort of set the cake on top of it. It would be better, IMHO, if it were baked in, and thus intertwined with the cake, and further thus wouldn’t break off in chunks and go skittering across your plate like candy. (Delicious pistachio candy, but candy nonetheless.)

Now that I’ve made this cake once (NINE YEARS!) and know just how involved it is (and it is on the medium side of involvement, and also requires quite a bit of fridge space to chill the cake and ganache), I’m ready to make it again, this time with a few tweaks to see if I can’t take it from great to Magical by my McPolish standards.

(And sadly, I don’t have any pictures of the cake, but I’ll do my damndest to get some next time.***)

*Amazong—adjective. A step above amazing. Tell your friends.

**Entirely possible they were lying. See aforementioned Drunk by Dessert.

***Look for said photos sometime in 2025. 

 

 

what we have not

15 Jun

Recently, our internet was out for Four. Whole. Days.

It wasn’t pleasant.

I mean, sure, it wasn’t like we were on the Oregon Trail, and had run out of food by day two, and then everyone died of diphtheria or drowned in the river by hour 37, but then again, maybe we were, and maybe we did. I can’t really know, because we couldn’t actually play Oregon Trail because the internet was out.

It should be noted that there are benefits to being cutoff from the internet at home. So much you can get done! For instance:

  1. Clean the shit out of your house.
  2. Finally put together the album of pictures from your wedding that happened eight months ago.
  3. Call friends and catch up on their lives.
  4. Cook and bake your way through your File Pit.
  5. Take your dog on ridiculously long walks that will finally, finally tire her out so she doesn’t do zoomies around your one-bedroom condo at 11:30 at night.
  6. Catch up on the back issues of Time, The Economist, Real Simple, and HGTV magazine that are piled around your house.

Here is what I actually did:

  1. Looked at Pinterest on my phone.

And actually, I probably could have played Oregon Trail on my phone, but I didn’t, because I didn’t think of it until just now.

Granted, Swede did some of the things mentioned above, because he is a much better person than I. But me? No, I pretty much became one with the couch and lamented the lack of technology in our home, and called RCN on the regular to see when they would be restoring service. (Guess what? The original tech forgot to put in the order for a line tech to come and fix our stuff, so yay! Even longer delay.)

And then, in a quiet, unassuming change, our service was restored. I’m not sure how, or why, but we woke up a few mornings later and waa-la! Interwebs! No call from RCN saying they’d fixed it (in fact, the line tech didn’t come out until like, three days after that to fiddle with something in the box and called us to assure that All Was Right With Our Internet) (and then ended up getting stuck in our parking lot) (it’s a common occurrence). It was just there.

And our regularly scheduled chaos of life resumed, as if nothing had happened, no break had ever occurred.

And now, wouldn’t you know it, I’m missing those quiet days on my couch like they were my One True Love.

 

 

 

things i’ve been meaning to tell you: february 2016

10 Feb

1) I loathe paying late charges. I really, really do. I see it as an absolute failure at something so simple, and the sign of a completely disorganized life. I’m guessing that no one really enjoys paying late charges, so I take comfort that I’m not the only one out there (though it’s possible that people don’t find them quite as abhorrent as I do, which is fine, to each her own).

There is one exception to this: library overdue charges. It’s rare I can remember to return my books on time or renew them within the proper window. Why? I don’t know. Possible it’s due to (no pun intended) the fact that I go to the library multiple times in one month and check out oodles of books so they all have different due dates, and it’s not like I’m reading said checked-out books in any logical order. Anyway, the point is I have no qualms about paying library fines for overdue books. In fact, I actually feel quite good about it. I consider it my duty as an active reader living in the City of Chicago. I know part of my tax dollars goes toward funding the library, but whatever the amount actually is I’m going to argue it’s not enough. And while I could just donate directly to the Chicago Library Foundation—and I probably should, no really, I must add that to my To Do list, now that I think about it—CPL will have much better luck garnering monies from me through my lack of attention forgetfulness flagrant disregard for missing due dates.

2) HGTV always seems to be showing marathons of Flip or Flop whenever I’m at the gym, which on a scale of 1 to 10 of my HGTV preferred shows rates a Meh. I like the idea on the whole, and if I didn’t like seeing the transformation from crappy to happy, well, that would pretty much go against everything I love about HGTV. I like Tarek and Christina El Moussa, and I root for them each episode, that they’ll make a profit and won’t get totally screwed over with their latest purchase. And I truly appreciate Christina’s commitment to false eyelashes—to wear them on the daily is no joke, you guys.

But for all that is holy and decent, can someone please give these two some acting or some such type of lessons? Because their monologues to the camera are killin’ me, Smalls.

An example for you–about 8:14 seconds in when Christina starts telling–not describing, telling–the camera everything their plan.)

It’s fine when they’re being filmed going into the house. Their reactions are as genuine as possible for something that’s probably filmed three different times from four different angles. But it’s those moments when one or the other is talking directly to the camera and telling us what’s happening that irk the hell out of me. They are scripted within an inch of their lives, and the lack of emotion just, gah. It really distracts from the excitement they’ve just created in showing us the major transformation of the property.

3) I’m making a concerted effort to watch more movies, both at home and in the theatre. Swede and I love going to see movies, we just…don’t…very often. But! That’s changing–since Christmas we’ve seen The Big Short (holy God, a wonderful movie that makes you lose your faith in humanity) and Star Wars: The Force Awakens (FOMO) (kidding) (about the FOMO, not seeing the movie. We did actually see it, and it was quite good) in the theaters. And much like I keep track of books I read, I’m keeping track of movies (and documentaries) that I watch. (PS—Thank you, PBS station on Netflix, for your American Experience series helping in my efforts.) What have you seen lately that I should add to my list? (Don’t worry about me having already seen the flick—I’m notorious for having never seen many a hit movie, including, but not limited to: Die Hard [though I’ve seen Die Hard 2, for some reason], The Godfather, Anything Nominated in 2015 for Best Picture, and It’s A Wonderful Life [though I have absolutely no desire to see that one.]) (Surprisingly, I have seen a hefty portion of movies nominated for 2103 Oscars. How that happened I have no idea, but well done, me.) And if they are available on Netflix or Amazon Prime, all the better.