Roomie Rivalry

As mentioned before, my roommate and I get along pretty well.

We’re pretty mellow and easy-going. Goofy. And often try to keep things light- not taking much too seriously.

And then football season rolls around.

She has no issues with my college football team. She went to a smaller school that doesn’t celebrate the glory of football Saturdays at anything near the level I’ve grown up with (GO MIZZOU).

But NFL? Well. We agree to disagree. To the extreme.

I’m a Bears fan.

She’s a Packers fan.

What a disaster.

However, I try not to judge the poor team choices of others (yes, it’s a low blow but this is my blog and I’ll do what I wanna) and work to find a common ground.

We both like football. We both like food. We both like beer. We both like unwinding on the occasional Thursday night.

There was no other choice.

Thirsty Thursday!!!!

Because we all need a little shake up in the routine, yes?

On the mission to try something new, we checked out Schoolyard Tavern- a Lakeview neighborhood spot.

$5 stadium cups are something a fan from any team can get behind.

As are mix and match tacos.

Finally tried fish tacos, ya’ll. One grilled tilapia and one grilled shrimp. The chicken taco was purposely ordered because it seemed to be the best one on the menu that would work as leftovers the next day.

Because I always think ahead.

And after a Bears loss like that, at least I’ve got something from last night to smile about.

Alright, kids. It’s Friday. And you know what that means.

Let’s buckle down and get through it. Happy weekend!

What teams are you cheering for this weekend?

Pizza Evolution

When growing up, my favorite pizza was Pizza Hut pepperoni pan pizza. My mom or dad would often bring it home after a big shopping trip in the city next to us (it was an ordeal to go because the grocery store was an hour away). It was also a frequent destination for outtings with family friends on a Saturday night. Which was super cool because I was 8 and there were the old school video games in the location we went to (score!).

When it came to toppings, I always went with pepperoni- it was the only one I liked at the time. Although my mom swears up and down I used to eat mushrooms as a toddler.

Then there was college. Where we had the pizza chain, Gumby’s, that soon became my new favorite. This was mostly because it was one of few delivery spots open at 3:00 in the morning.

I was still mostly a pepperoni-only kind of gal, but learned I could bend the rules quite easily if you offer me another Keystone Light while in the ordering process. In addition, Gumby’s was the chain that introduced me to the harmonious combination of pizza with ranch dressing. A habit I still take up on occasion, as it is sinfully delicious.

Then, after moving to Chicago, I was sure that one of the main deep dish spots was certain to strike my fancy.

There was my first experience with deep dish at Gino’s. Eh.
The Rosati’s conveniently located across from my apartment building. Eh.
Lou Malnati’s. Giordano’s. Not bad. Not bad.

What am I missing? What is going on??

After a year or two, the realization was made.

I’m just not excited over deep dish pizza.

I mean… the concept is fabulous. A literal pie of cheese and meat and more cheese? Holy wow.

But I rarely indulge unless with out-of-towners who want to try it. My preference is to just make it on my own (via Trader Joe pizza crust) for a movie night in on the weekends.

Chicago is the mecca of pizza. How is this possible that I do not have a favorite?

Then along came Piece Brewery.
My first time was about a year ago, and I never looked back. The now infamous combo of goat cheese and bacon solidified my membership card to the Piece Pizza fan club.

It may not be Chicago-style (it’s actually New Haven-style), but this Chicago spot ranks up there in my top 5.

They even have their own beer.

I went with Golden Arm- one of their lighter brews. It was a school night, after all…

My heart is theirs forever.

And that is a reason why I was actually looking forward to this last Tuesday (woah- right?). My former manager and I are both pizza lovers and decided, after weeks of trying to plan something, to catch up last night after work at Piece Brewery & Pizzeria.

Funny thing is, going out to eat is a difficult thing for us. My former boss and I both talk relatively quickly and are very capable of rattling on, hopping from one subject to another with no rhyme or reason (this was the case when we worked together, as well). It makes ordering and eating quite difficult. Apologies go out to our extremely patient waiter.

Still a lover of pepperoni, I now prefer to pile the toppings on. And he’s not a big fan of red meat. So we went the vegetarian route. Mushrooms? I’m back, baby! Spinach? Why not? Olives? I love you.

There were also artichokes involved. Don’t hate until you’ve tried it.

They offer “white” (no sauce) or “plain” (no cheese), but I just can’t call it pizza unless sauce and cheese are involved. I’m a purist like that.

The crust is thin, but don’t think it’s not going to be filling. They load up on the toppings that fill you up. Which is awesome. Because I now have my dinner sitting in a plastic carry out box for tonight.

Too bad I didn’t carry out some of their beer while I was at it.

Because pizza without beer (or wine) is just plain wrong. I’ll remember this tonight as I warmup the leftovers.

Later, kids!

Question of the Day (or month, since I don’t do this often): Favorite pizza chain when you were growing up?

Sorta Spontaneous

As mentioned multiple times before, I’m a planner. As much fun as it always sounds, and as many times as I’ve aspired to be spontaneous, I’ve finally accepted my brain refuses to let me function in such a manner.

About two months ago, a slow twitter conversation started between Pham, The Unnatural Runner, her hubby and I.

We live right next to each other. Why do we never hang out?

Unfortunately I’ve had this conversation more than once with multiple people (I’m really sorry if this includes you). If it’s not planned 2-3 days in advance, it’s probably not happening. Let’s blame my Type-A personality again, shall we?

I really need to find less spontaneous friends. You guys are killing me.

Anyway, so this twitter conversation…

After roadblocks such as traveling, new jobs, more traveling, and birthdays (gah. birthdays. SO annoying.), we FINALLY settled on a date.

The scene: Early Monday afternoon. My desk at work.

My phone vibrates Of course it doesn’t actually ring. The speaker broke and I’ve yet to plan a time to go in and correct the situation. Naturally.

It’s a tweet! Everyone’s so excited about happy hour! Neat! Me too!

Wait. Tonight?

It’s tonight??

I thought it was supposed to be on Tuesday?!?!

The right side of my brain started flipping out.

“You can’t go. It’s not part of the plan! We always stick to the plan!”

But after two months of trying to nail this down? There’s no way.

I’m going.

So I rushed in and out of my apartment after work that evening. And out towards Bad Dog Tavern- our designated meeting spot.

We haven’t been all together since meeting up at the 2010 Hot Chocolate 15k, but none of us missed a beat.

Which made it really hard to stop and concentrate on the menu. Thankfully we finally did. Sort of. My decision was based on recommendations from the group- I was the only person who had never been there before.

I went with the Turkey Bacon Club. And it was fabulous. Which is a good thing- I would have judged them all had it not been. 

Also, the bar was out of fries (how does that happen?!?!), but it was completely fine because the upgrade to sweet potato tots was fo’ FREE!

And, it needs to be said, I have a lot of respect for any establishment that automatically throws ranch in as a dipping sauce.

There was intelligence behind that decision.

Was this me being rewarded for my semi-spontaneity? The world must be telling me something.It’s probably telling me these kids rock. And we should do this more often.

Obviously.

 We should probably start the planning process now…

Best part about our happy hour? Two microbrews, a solid meal, good conversation, and I’m still home by 9:30 on a school night. Win. It’s obvious we’re all in training mode for something or another.

For a girl who is trying to make morning exercise work, this was clutch. Because right now, if I want to run outside, it needs to happen in the morning. We’re in and out of heat advisories this week. And even though I happen to do well running in somewhat warmer temps, we all have our limits. Heat index of 105-110 degrees? I’ll pass.

Stay cool, kids.

Reunited At Last

Something has been missing for the last month or two.

Sure, I’ve been living my life. Doing my thing. Keeping busy. Staying social.

But something has been missing.

Oh yeah… it’s THIS girl:

Mon decided fish tacos where the way to go. And a side of lobster bisque. She had a whole nautical theme going on…

Oh heeeey, Mon! I found you!

That’s right, it’s been far too long since this girl and I had a night out on the town. We’ve both been busy doing this, that, or the other, and it’s been over a month since we’ve had a proper “hang out”.

So after Mon accepted a new job this week, we decided to put an end to this nonsense and go out for a proper celebration!

For future reference, when I say “proper celebration”, I mean consumption of food and drinks.

Not sure if it was the bacon or the pretzel roll that swayed my final decision to go with their chicken sandwich?

We checked out Emmett’s Brewing Company- a brewery and restaurant near my old stomping grounds.

Ironically, we split a bottle of wine versus check out the beer selection. Brewery visit fail.

And when I say “old stomping grounds”, I mean in the vicinity of where I lived for two years and right across the street from one of my favorite bars-

Durty Nellie’s! Our celebration coincided nicely with the Rod Tuffcurls and The Benchpress show going on.

Our favorite cover band. So convenient. ;)

What’s not convenient is how uncomfortable my heels got after 3 hours of dancing. At the end, I questioned which would be worse- continuing to stay in the platform heels or having my feet touch the floor of the bar.

I stayed in those heels. But I wasn’t happy about it.

The dancing easily counted as my physical activity on Friday. The rest from the gym was necessary. And so was the rocking out to their version of my happy song, “500 Miles”.

It made the late night drive thru that much more satisfying. ;)

And the sleeping in that much more great.

My most comfortable way to lay on a couch. I like to prop my feet up over the top. Weird. And not very ladylike….

It has been decided Mon and I should probably never spend that much time apart again. It’s probably not overwhelming for us, but we’re just looking out for everyone else around us.

You’re welcome.

Excuse me while I go pour more coffee and properly sprawl out on the couch again for a while.

Just don’t tell my mom you caught me with my feet on the furniture. It IS Mother’s Day, afterall…

A Little Help From My Friends

As briefly mentioned before, last week kinda blew.

Not for one particular reason. Just a bunch of small ones that added up and made me quite hateful by 5:00 on Friday night.

Enter the weekend. My time to relax and recharge.

Friends help with this. They distract. They’re down to play. And they make me feel 10 times better with hardly any effort at all.

And sometimes they know when you just need an afternoon of throwing balls really really hard at things.And yes, I’m passive aggressive.

But at least I’m a passive aggressive bowler who dresses in high fashion. Naturally.

Mon and I have bowled before. It was after fits of rage a couple of years ago. So Mon had barely gotten the suggestion out of her mouth by the time I looked up deals in my area. One cheap Groupon deal later, we had secured a lane and were sippin’ on Bitch Ale.The ale was on draft. Almost like they saw me coming. Unwashed hair and all. I’m so classy.

And it came served in a goblet in a bowling alley! Because that’s the way us classy broads roll.

Mon threw a million strikes (who is she???). I got two. And that was with the assistance of the guys setting up the pins because they’d “accidentally knock them over” for me (yeah- old school bowling alley up in here… holla’).

The hour of bowling was therapuetic for us. And I like to think the hour of the Amy and Mon show we put on for everyone around us was entertainment for the masses.

What can I say? We’re givers.

I overheard a woman say “I think they’d be fun to go out on the weekends with”.Yes. Yes we are.

We strolled the neighborhood after that for a while before retreating back to my apartment to watch Comedy Central and feast on my latest kichen experiment.

Thanks to my farming roots, there was still a pork loin left over from the last time I visited my ‘rents back in Mid-MO.After googling how exactly to prepare it in the crock pot (I really don’t cook large cuts of meat often), I took my chances by throwing potatoes and carrots in with the loin, dumped veggie broth over all of it, closed my eyes and threw some spices in there, and just let it go.

The house didn’t burn down during our bowling excursion. That in itself was a win.

The fact that I successfully cooked the meat without any slip-ups?I’ll be smug about it the rest of the week.

And yes, I cut into it a million times to make sure it’s done. It doesn’t have to be pretty to taste good.

And because no meal is complete without dessert, we also walked to the nearest custard shop to inhale some sugar.

It’s been decided that no Sunday will ever be perfect again unless ice cream is involved.

My mood is decidedly much better. Tuesday and all.

Sure, it would have passed eventually (my bad moods/slumps normally do). But having friends who all text to see how I’m doing or just pick up on it and are willing to wear used sweaty shoes and buy you a beer?It helps.

I sort of love my girlfriends. They’re awesome.

Go enjoy the day. And if you don’t, go get some Bitch Ale. It’s like cough syrup for the soul.

Thank You For Being a Friend…

Cowabunga, dudes.

Oh… and happy halloween! A bunch of us girls decided to dress up as a group once again. With some turtle power!

And by turtle power, I mean the name of the shots Annie made for us. Along with the vodka-infused gummy bears.The combo of sugar and vodka is a delicious one. And perfect for a night of rocking out with the Golden Girls.

Yeah, you heard me. The Golden Girls.

Rod Tuffcurls took their costumes to amazing new levels at Cubby Bear in Wrigleyville this year.I’m seriously curious how they kept their wigs on while rocking out.

The night was a major success. Our desire to find costumes that incorporated gym shoes was a genius move once again. Because 3 hours of dancing is rough in heels. And is to be avoided if at all possible. It’s important to be nice to your feet, ya know?

It’s also important to properly fuel when incorporating a night of dancing into your routine.

Beforehand with pizza:As the typical teenage mutant ninja turtle would do.

And afterwards with a big pancake and cinnamon roll breakfast. Cooked by yours truly and the roommate for all the peeps who crashed at our place for a giant sleepover. Because who doesn’t love carbs???

After everyone left, I retreated to the couch. The Bears weren’t playing, so I had no choice but to get through 8 more episodes of Daria on DVD. Eventually, to be a more productive member of society, I hit the gym for a stairs workout and a short stroll on the treadmill.

Key word is “short”. Let’s not get too crazy. Lazy Sundays are meant to be lazy (duh). So then I decided to retreat back to the couch with leftover breakfast and a few more episodes of Daria.Just the way as a Sunday was intended to be…

Another successful weekend. Good work, girls!

There Has To Be A TV

Happy Friday, ya’ll!

I’m pretty excited for the weekend (who isn’t). Not just because I have a few days off, but because my mom is taking a little road trip up to Chicago to visit my cousin and I. A nice family weekend, if you will…

Through Wednesday night I tried to clean here and there (ssshhh… don’t look in any closets…) in preparation for her arrival because I had plans for my Thursday night. 

Not big plans, but plans that involved this lady:MON! We haven’t seen each other in what seems like FOREVER. I’ve been constantly gone or busy and work has been driving her crazy. So we decided to make a girl date mid-week to remedy this situation.

Plus, if that whole supposed rapture thing was gonna happen, we figured it’d only be fitting that we have one last night out.

Not that I believed that crazy dude who predicted the end of the world would be today. But you know… just in case.

Oh Gatsby’s… how I’ve missed you so!It is my firm belief that everyone needs that one default neighborhood bar. That bar where you don’t even have to call anyone to go to because you know they’ll be there anyway. That bar where the owner knows you and stops by the table to say hi when he’s there. That bar that lets you stay and dance to one last song while they’re putting chairs away.

You know… a bar they sing about in the theme song of Cheers… 

Until this June, Gatsby’s was mine.

Originally, the plan was to go get ice cream. Innocent enough.

That idea was kicked to the curb when Mon said she was craving mexican food and margaritas.

I said ok, but being as how we’re chillaxin’ on the night of Game 2 of the World Series, I would require an establishment with a television and subscription to Fox.

Gatsby’s instantly became the new destination. And Mon totally got her steak burrito that she wanted.Um.

Uh.

They should have listed it under the party subs.

This didn’t scare Mon. She’s actually completely tackled one on her own before. And lived to tell about it.

I decided to keep it a little lighter (all things considered) with the buffalo chicken wrap.I barely even bothered with the fries. Because the buffalo chicken was where it was AT.

Mon did a respectable job with her burrito. But after a while, she threw in the towel. Much to the dismay of the people working there. And a few customers who were watching out of the corner of their eye.Next time, Mon. Next time…

Another thing to be disappointed in was the result of Game 2. :(

It’s been a great series. But man… I’m a giant stress ball this week.

Game 3 is Saturday during my mom’s visit. I asked her if it was ok if we just cooked in and watched it at home versus being out doing something.

She said “I was really really hoping you’d say that”.

Cardinal pride. It runs deep.

On another note, I totally lost when it comes to miles for the week vs my man friend. Whomp whomp… :( I still ran about 8 miles, there’s just a lack of time for it this week. That and when I went on Wednesday night, the idea of running any more than 2 miles was just unbearable. My legs were dragging. So to make them feel better (or possibly punish them?), I opted for finishing my workout with 22 minutes on the stairmill and 15 on the elliptical.

I better snap out of this quickly, though. There’s a 15k race staring me down and I am yet to run more than 6.5 miles. Crap.

Looks like we know what I’ll be doing Sunday after my mom leaves…

Happy Weekend, kiddos!

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