A Friday of Social

Last night, a few of us girls congregated.

We didn’t go out because we were all in the same boat.  Two had to work today and two were just tired. And now, partially due to my dentist appointment and partially due to the fact that I’m just another struggling 20-something, I’m on a super budget (like I wasn’t already on one?).

 But it had still been so long since all of us had been in the same room together, so I proposed a movie night. 

Sure, I have a lot of Friday nights in with a movie, but when you’ve got 3 or more people, it’s like a party.  Sort of.  Right?  I’m calling it socializing- just to save some face.  :p

Because I technically called it a “party”, I needed something to bring to the table (literally). Time to break out the povitica!Povi-huh?

Povitica.  Does anyone have a clue what I’m talking about?  No?  Let me give you some background.

Povitica is a type of Croatian dessert bread.  Often seen around the holidays and special occasions. When made, they roll out the dough super super super thin, top it with all things evil (in this case, English walnuts and lots of butter), and then roll and bake it.

No, I am not Croatian.  But my uncle is.  And he is the one to blame for my rabid obsession with it.  Yes, rabid.  It’s that good.When I was young and before my aunt died, she and my uncle used to bring this bread out every Christmas.  I have no idea how my uncle found this lady in Kansas City, but every year, this old Croatian lady would make a certain number of loaves of povitica for people who wanted to buy it.  Which is quite a task because I heard it’s a very long and intensive project.  Anyways, it started with him bringing one out every year, but then I’d get a hold of it and it became quite clear he should start bringing two.

The Croatian woman died, and now her daughter carries out the tradition, but makes much less.  And my uncle doesn’t come out for the holidays anymore, but he always makes sure that a loaf of this povitica makes it’s way into my hands for Christmas.You can buy it in the stores, but I’ve had it and um… that is not the real deal.

I’ve also considered putting a Saturday aside to make it myself, but when I started looking up recipes and the calorie count (holy geez), I decided that maybe there’s a reason people only eat it on special occasions. 

Because us girls rarely are able to get together, I considered this special.And of course there were wheat thins. Because what else would you serve with homemade wonderfulness?  Sun-dried tomato- in case people wanted more salty instead of sweet.

We broke out the Trader Joe wine and watched our “feature” of the night – The Social Network.

And by the way, I loved that movie. Not only for the overall quality, but because I was getting serious deja vu from early in my college years.  I remembered so much of what they were talking about and it’s so crazy it’s been that long ago already! 

After the movie and a little more socializing, I was spent.

Still woke up at about 5:30- but smashed that idea and went back to bed for a couple more hours until I decided it was an acceptable time to get up.

Because of my pancake fail last weekend, I was determined to do better and made another batch of Jaime’s German pancakes!A little more “done” than usual.  My bad.  But put a little powdered sugar and syrup on it and no one will notice…Alright kiddos, that’s enough talk for today.  I’ve let the breakfast digest a little and am off!

A Few Green Men

I’m so glad you guys liked the samoas I made

They are quite fantastic.  And unbelievably easy compared to how difficult I thought they’d be to replicate.  A win in my book.

And if you hadn’t noticed already- I added a new tab at the top of my blog for all the baking adventures.  Enter only if you dare… ;)

Anyhoo, as you can imagine, I’ve been feeling the need for a little sugar detox after such a crazy weekend of baking.

But alas, duty calls.That’s right, I spent last night icing sugar cookies!  The exclamation mark may be a little over the top- I wasn’t super excited about it if we’re being completely honest.  My baking energy levels are shot. So these cookies were baked on Saturday, but sat around naked for a few days.

The gingerbread men were feeling exposed. And I wanted to get all the cookies out to everyone they were made for. So I persevered.

It wasn’t so bad.  I didn’t make an overly big batch (as I sometimes do).Does anyone else put bread slices in the tupperware with the cookies?  It’s a trick I learned to keep them soft.  Does it work?  I like to think so.  If it doesn’t, please don’t tell me all my efforts and bread have been wasted all this time…Aren’t they cute?

I use my Grandma’s recipe.  I don’t think it’s anything too different from most recipes, but hey- gotta keep it in the family sometimes… :)

Do you have any recipes like that?Notice my red trees?  My brother and I sometimes help my mom ice sugar cookies.  I have no idea why she asks for our assistance.  Because she refuses to ice the trees anything but green.  Since my brother and I are the way we are (ahem… difficult), we often spend the entire time grabbing and icing as many of the trees as we can with any other color than green before she can get to them. Our defense is that we’re trying to get her to think outside of the box.  It’s become a running joke.  So I wanted to make sure she got a nice look at a couple of the RED trees I made.

You’re welcome, mom.  :)I also introduced a few alien gingerbread men to the Christmas cookie gathering.  I assume they’ll enjoy hanging out with Psycho Pete- in my tummy.  Maybe they’ll even change his attitude around.  Because, well, they come in peace… right?

You can groan at that one.  I did. 

Anyway, so I didn’t get away from the cookies completely, but I did make an effort to at least keep the rest of the day on the lighter side.  And I’ve been keeping up my usual gym routine.  Trying hard not to overdo it (burnout would be a disaster!), but definitely making sure it happens as normal.

This week, because work is a little later (9:00 versus 7:30), my goal is to pull early morning sessions of The Shred by Jillian or resistance bands all this week.  Wish me luck.  I’m currently 2 for 2 (yesterday and this morning), so I’m feeling pretty cocky at the moment.

For a little more cardio, last night I did abs and hit the elliptical for 30 minutes as well. 30 minutes! On the elliptical!  Who am I?!?!

Oh yeah, How I Met Your Mother was on.  That helped…

The Day After

Holidays away from the family can be hard.  My family is very important to me and I wish I could see them more often.I mean, come on.  Who wouldn’t want to spend the holidays with a group of characters like us?  We’re fun.

But sometimes that can’t always happen. I’ve spent the last two Thanksgivings in Chicago for various reasons, and it’s ok.  This year I’m taking an extra day or so off of work so I can go back to Missouri and give it the proper attention it deserves over Christmas. 

I think the first year I did this, my mom was terrified I’d be sitting alone with a turkey tv dinner in my apartment.  This couldn’t be further from the truth.

I’m a very lucky girl.

Take this year, for example. I spent my Thanksgiving Eve celebrating with good friends.Oh and yes, my hair is very tasty.  Thanks for asking.

We went to Durty Nellie’s to see Rod Tuffcurls and the Bench Press again.  Clearly we’re making this a regular thing.  It’s good music.  Entertaining.  And sometimes I just want to dance.  It works.

I’m also lucky enough to have families here in Chicagoland that have taken me in.

Last year, I was lucky enough to spend time with Jaime’s family.  This year, I went with Annie to hers.

I know Annie’s in-laws pretty well.  They’ve been wonderful to me.  And I could not be more thankful for that.I’m also thankful they feed me really good food.Seriously.  Good food.

I took the pecan pie cupcakes as another dessert option.

Believe it or not, I had overdone it a little on them by eating one every chance I got, but everyone else approved. (Shout out to Mark on this one- he made sure to let me know with every bite how good they are.  Thanks, sir!)

I also learned the finer points of the game “Bananagrams”This game was new to me. My family usually sticks to Scrabble and Scattergories.  Any favorite family games?

I’m proud to report I won one game.  Especially since the competition is so intense!  Whew…

By the end of the night, I was in food coma/exhaustion mode.  Bed time came early.  But that was fine- this girl had enough excitement and a race this morning (not talking about it now, but it went well!).

All in all, a good holiday!  :)

Hey Ma…

Happy weekend everyone!  Was it just me or was that one of the slowest work weeks of all time?

Either way, I’m excited to finally have some rest and relaxation.  And most importantly, get some quality time in with the parental unit who came up to visit while my cousin runs the Chicago Marathon:Hey ma!

As I was uploading this pic, I said, “hey mom, I like this picture.  It turned out well.”

She inspected it (after pulling out her glasses of course) and said, “eh.  I guess I look alright for an old lady.”

Psht.  Now I know where I get my critical eye from…

She and two of my aunts roadtripped their way up yesterday (living on almond joys and gossip- or so I’ve been told) and my mom was waiting for me at my place by the time I got home from work.  So then it came time for our turn at catching up until I finally said I’d need something to eat or an arm would go missing.

Originally we had planned to go out to eat somewhere that at least had real silverware, but I wasn’t in the mood for anything too heavy and she had eaten a later lunch.  Solution?

Why Jason’s Deli, of course. I was craving deli.  This has happened a lot as of late.  Not sure why.  My mom did soup and a salad, while I tried something new to me from the “Lighter Side” part of the menu:I had the turkey wrap- which was filled with turkey, sprouts and guacamole (yes!).  Sans tomato because I’m crazy and don’t like tomatoes in my sandwich.  Also, it came with chips and guac (double yes!) on the side.

Sadly, the Goose Island beer didn’t come with it.  I supplied that on my own.  This was my first time trying the Harvest Ale and I have to say it’s not my favorite.  I still like Goose Island’s Summertime much better.  Maybe it’s just because I prefer lighter beer and not so much the malts, or maybe it’s because that’s me being in denial that summer’s over.  Either/or.

Quick- name your favorite beer!  Or if you don’t like beer- your favorite beverage to relax with?

Anyhoo, this is a quick one because clearly us girls have shopping to do.  With very little time to do it before we travel downtown to meet up with the rest of the gene pool for an evening out. 

Have a great Saturday!  And for all you kids running, GOOD LUCK!  I’ll be in the crowd.  Most likely with a bright yellow scarf.  If I see you, don’t be surprised if I’m jumping up and down like a maniac.  It’s sorta what I do.

Lunch Excitement (it’s the little things in life)

So I was definitely bummed that my workout got pushed to after work.  Mostly because I planned my night around having that done already.  But I’m glad to hear I’m not alone in the occasional struggle with the alarm clock

The run still happened.  My favorite treadmill was wide open. Then again, most of the machines were.  It seems lots of people shy away from working out when the weather turns?  Other than Mon flying away on the elliptical and another guy aimlessly wandering around in the weights section, it was empty.  Sweet! 

The run started like any other run, but then I developed a stitch in my side by the end of the 2nd mile.  And it WOULD NOT go away.  So I had to stop.  But only for a minute and I was back up- just not going as quickly.  I still ran a full 4 miles.  But much slower than usual.  I don’t know exactly- maybe an 8:50 pace?

Eh.  At least I got it done- even after accidentally sleeping in.  ;)

Moving on…

Has anyone heard of Portillo’s?  They’re a Chicago fast food chain that specializes in things like italian beef and hot dogs and such.  As much as others rave about it, I’m not a huge fan.  I mostly blame this to the fact that they only have krinkle-cut fries.  For some reason, I’m just not down with the krinkle.  I’m more of a waffle or curly fry kind of gal.

Needless to say, I haven’t been there in a while.  But Mon occasionally goes there for lunch and brought this little gem to me this week:She swore it was “life changing”.  The salad dressing.  She hasn’t read the book yet.  (And yes, I’m so excited to FINALLY be getting to read Chelsea Chelsea Bang Bang.)

I said “woah now- that’s a pretty bold statement, Mon.”

She said, “OH- just wait and see”.Even Chelsea was smiling at me in that pic.  She knew the Portillo’s house dressing would be A-mazing.  If I weren’t in public, I gaurantee I would have licked the container.  But that wouldn’t have been lady-like, so I didn’t (I promise, mom!). 

Mon says they sell the dressing by itself at the restaurant.  It’s a good thing I don’t frequent Portillo’s.  But I can promise you that next time I go there, I will be leaving with a bottle of it.

What’s your favorite type of dressing?  For salads, I generally go with some sort of balsamic variety.  And of course I’m not a stranger to ranch- but it usually is used as a condiment for other things like sandwiches or pizza… ;)

So do you realize how excited I am about this weekend?  Obviously people know about the marathon, but my MOM is coming to visit and watch with me!  :)  My cousin is pretty much super human and will be one of the thousands of runners out there- so a few of “the girls” (aka my mom and a couple aunts) will be roadtripping up to spend the weekend with their daughters.  Is the city ready for a surge of my family population within it’s limits?  We shall see…

Early Flight

Ok.  Who booked this flight?!?!  It surely wasn’t me.  Mom…. I know it was you…

Yes, it’s 4:15.  AM.  Yes, it’s vacation and I’m up way earlier than I would have been if I had been working today. I guess that’s just how it goes. 

A nap will be necessary.

But I digress…

Last night was packed.  (Get it??  One of the things I had to do was pack… no?  I’m going to pretend it’s just too early for you yet, because that’s funny!)  Anyways, I raced home and headed straight to my apartment’s workout room.  I didn’t know how long I was going to have the desire to workout, giving the tiny bit of lingering soreness, but wanted to make sure I had plenty of time to go as long as I please.  I ended up just sticking to 25 minutes on the elliptical followed by some free weights and abs.  It felt pretty good- so I’ll be back into full swing again soon!

Dinner was an egg and spinach scramble.Loaded with spinach.  Because my timing really sucked with grocery shopping last weekend and I didn’t want to the spinach to go to waste while I am gone.  Popeye would have been proud.  There was a ton of it.  Of course I had to have toast.  And maaaay have put almond butter on half for dessert.  :)

Packing is always a chore.  I’m awful at it because I’m the world’s worst overpacker.  The idea of only taking a carry-on for three days worth of stuff makes me want to hyperventilate.  A girl needs her shoes!  And I have this awful habit of overpacking stuff like underwear.  Seriously… what is that about?  Have I ever needed 3 or 4 pair for each night I’m staying somewhere?  No.  But I’ll pack it anyways.  Every time.  guaranteed.  How about you?  What do you always overpack?

On a happy note, the lovely ladies over at She’s a Fit Chick and RunRettaRun passed along the Versatile Blogger award to me!  Thanks girls!

To accept, you’re supposed to list off 7 random things about yourself.  I’ve done this a few times, and I’m really not that interesting, but here are a couple more for you to ponder for fun:

- I am one of over 30 cousins.  On one side of my family.  I really can’t give you the exact number without sitting and thinking about it because inevitably I’ll accidently skip someone.  My mom comes from a HUGE family of 13.  So I guess that many cousins is close to an appropriate average?  I’m somewhere in the upper middle of the group.  Family gatherings are full-blown ordeals.  And can be overwhelming if you’re unprepared.

- Of all the places I haven’t been and want to visit, I think I’d choose New York City.  The city fascinates me (as did Chicago before I visited it).  And if the exciting hustle and bustle isn’t enough to entice me, I want to see and experience the culture, history and landmarks, restaurants, bars, shopping… the list goes on.  Oh New York… one day!

- I enjoy romantic dinners and long walks on the beach…. oh wait… just kidding.  When it comes to dating, I’m not huge in the romance.  My ideal date would allow me to wear jeans, laugh over drinks and a casual dinner, and do something random (think bowling, sight seeing, hiking).  One time, a guy I dated insisted (after I protested) on a candle lit dinner and a carriage ride.  One time, I broke it off with a guy after the second date.  Shoulda listened.

So that’s all I have for now.  I hope you all have a wonderful day!

Socialization

I’ve spent a lot of weekends resting and staying in as of late.  I have no problems with that.  I actually enjoy it.  But not this weekend… this weekend I remembered what the concept of socialization was all about (although I may be a little rusty… ;)).

After the three of us (my cousin, her friend, and I) getting our workouts in yesterday, we cleaned up as to look publicly acceptable, and headed down to the city to meet up with cousin #2 in Bucktown for a late brunch.  Really it was well past any hour that breakfast should be served in, but if there’s any cinnamon rolls involved, I still call it brunch.We ate at Blue Line Lounge and Grill- right under the Blue Line stop.  They had a little outside patio area that would have been so cute to sit in- had it not been SO COLD!  (Thank you Chicago weather and your mind games… I’m THIS CLOSE to needing therapy because of you.)  Niki got there right after we did, so as soon as she sat down, the family gossip came out again!  Don’t think we’re rude- there’s 35 cousins on that side of the family- there is a LOT of catching up to do on a regular basis.  Jeanna (my cousin Joanne’s friend) was very awesome about listening to all the tales of our childhood/family musings/where are they nows. 

The food came out and I had the California Stone Flat with sweet potato fries.  After that sandwich, I decided no sandwich is complete without avocado.  Mark my words…Such a sassy group of ladies we are…

After lunch, we all parted ways.  My coming home involved a nap in my favorite spot of my new couch (that would be the corner so I pretty much lay there in fetal position and bask in the glow of the sun shining through my sliding door- I’m a little baby like that.  Or a cat.).

I did, however, wake up and get moving again.  I had some energy stored up at that point and went down to hammer out another mile and a half on the treadmill.  Yes- I used the treadmill yesterday.  The dreaded thing.  The rain made me do it!

Later that night, I met up with my bestie Annie and we went to Rocks in Lincoln Park to celebrate her husband Steve’s birthday.  I really like that place because it’s a casual neighborhood bar.  I’m not so much a fan of the club scene and feel much more at home in a place like this.  Joanne was staying downtown this night and was cool enough to meet up with me again!  We decided this was probably the most bonding time we have had in years!I really want to make a trip to Ann Arbor to see her.  I’ve heard it’s a fun little town to run around in.  Plans must be made…

Anyhoo, because it was Steve’s birthday and Annie didn’t have time to bake anything, we brought a few of the cake bites I made to the bar to celebrate his birthday properly.  I like that Annie called them “cake bites”.  I have decided I’m not a huge fan of the word “balls” unless using it in a more negative tone.  Like, “he’s going to be late and we are gonna be so screwed!”  “Oh balls….”.  So yeah, we’re calling them cake bites now. Happy Birthday Steve!!!

People loved my cake bites.  And can we point out- this is where it sounds better.  Because you can’t say “people loved my balls”.  You just can’t use a phrase like that any more without thinking of Alec Baldwin’s schweddy balls skit.  Which is hilarious and all, but still somewhat awkward.  Nothing like a schweddy ball…

I’m running on little sleep today.  I blame myself.  Didn’t turn the heat up enough.  So I woke up freezing.  But too tired to actually get up and turn up the heat more or grab a cover.  So I laid there.  Frozen.  Looking back, that was a poor choice.

I have got to run.  Time to call my mom (Happy Mother’s Day, ya’ll).  And I have to clean before the peeps show up for a special suburb edition of Lunch Club. Have a wonderful Sunday!

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