Embarassing Your Friends: A How-To
Tuesday, October 30, 2007
Recently, my friends Kate and Dave ran the LaSalle Bank Chicago Marathon...you may remember, as I blogged about it briefly. But what you wouldn't recall is my long diatribe on the topic of marathon signs. I'm torn when it comes to athletic event signage - the people who are meant to see the signs (and ultimately be cheered on by them) usually don't even notice. As a former athlete, I can attest to the fact that there isn't usually any time during your event to go visually trolling, looking for signs with your name on them.

Especially when you are one of 45,000 runners (and 1+ million spectators) all over the nation's third largest city. I'm just sayin' is all.

Despite the fact that there was VERY little chance either of my friends would see anything I was holding in the air, I made a cheesy sign anyhow. Hell - I couldn't even guarantee they would see ME, and I have blazing orange hair. Something about the project was very soothing, and definitely re-awoke (re-awakened?) my inner cheerleader.

What's that you ask - how can YOU make your VERY OWN CHEESY MARATHON SIGN?! Well, since you asked, I'll show you.

First off, you'll need a sheet of foamcore and two pieces of large posterboard. The foamcore is for stability (nothing is more frustrating than a flimsy sign), and the posterboard is for color. Because trying to color the background of a sign manually is a ridiculous waste of time, and you are smarter than that, aren't you?

You'll also need some glitter glue (for sparkle), an enormous permanent marker (for visibility, permanence, and a raging inhalation high), some duct tape (I like the chrome kind), and a stippling sponge (that you probably won't end up using, but buy one just in case because it will make you feel like Martha Stewart).

First, fold the posterboard around the foamcore, dividing the back and front into two colors. Be sure to fasten the posterboard to the foamcore by using errant, misshapen bits of duct tape.

Next, secure the edges with about half of the remaining amount of duct tape. You'll need to make sure the posterboard is flat to the foamcore, and it also makes a nice, non-skid place to hold the sign. You know, so when the runners you're supporting run by, you can wave it in the air like a complete idiot with GUSTO AND CONFIDENCE. (Also, posterboard bleeds its color when wet - a note to all sweaty-palmed readers)

Then decorate the sign with whatever message you choose. I prefer to freehand because I always *think* I can make it look professional, and then end up with a mediocre version of what I could have traced from a damn stencil. Why learn from your mistakes, when you can be doomed to repeat them?

Fill in the design with color - I like to add sparkle with glitter. However, be forewarned: glitter is a risky beeyotch. She will, much like her namesake Mariah Carey, s**t all over you if you're not careful. I don't recommend loose glitter for craft projects...well, ever. Why leave the site of a project looking like a newbie drag queen when you don't have to? Glitter glue goes on and stays on. Be sure to choose a color that complements the posterboard so that when your favorite athlete sees the sign, they can spend 25 minutes analyzing the monochromatic nature of your color choices - much like you did while standing in the glitter aisle at JoAnn Fabrics.

If you're feeling extra crafty, take a picture of the aforementioned athlete and paste it onto the sign. Because that is just plain funny.

Then allow to dry. Take with you during the athletic event, making sure to carry it at all times so that no one steals your cheesy sign. Even if it's more than half your body size, continue to lug the damn sign all throughout the city, before realizing that even if you held it up at the finish line of the marathon, everyone behind you would be pissed as hell because you just completely blocked their view.

Ta-dum! An easy peasy craft project to satisfy all your inner neuroses. Enjoy!

Shockingly, I'm actually lighter than last week, despite my total diet vacation this weekend. As it turns out, eating multiple hot dogs and drinking Jim Beam helps you lose weight. Who knew?

Starting Weight: 146
Goal Weight: 125
Current Weight: 138.2


Coming Home
Friday, October 26, 2007
Call me a skeptic, but for years after college graduation, I didn't return to campus. I didn't see a need - my friends were no longer there (with a few exceptions), my life had moved to another state, and I didn't feel a particularly strong loyalty to the university.

When I was in college and high school, I assumed the boomerang alumni simply didn't have anything better to do. My life didn't revolve around being a UIUC or NNHS alumni, so why would anyone elses? Now I understand that the draw is the people -- getting together with the folks that represent a great time in one's life. Like a vivid memory that pops up when I hear a certain song, these are the people in which my memories manifest themselves. They were there - for the stupid tears about an ex-boyfriend, me falling down mostly drunk (but also a little hyper) in the parking lot behind the YMCA, supporting me at every pointless dance team event in which I usually wore something skimpy and didn't do much but jump around, everything.

I've always been so focused on barreling forward, pushing on to the next thing - always moving, moving, moving. It's stupid, really, because I should have been focused on living in the present when I still had all those great folks around me. Now we're older, spread out, different. So this homecoming, I'm going to concentrate on what really matters: spending time with my friends, enjoying the feeling of being on campus and NOT having any exams for which to study, and being able to drink legally outdoors!

Some things never change.

Have a great weekend, everybody.

They Grow Up Fast, like Lightning McQueen
Tuesday, October 23, 2007
A week or so ago, my family (and friends of the family, in-laws, neighbors, etc.) gathered to celebrate my nephew's second birthday. In the time that has elapsed since he was born, he has become so many things! He is stubborn, he is clever, he is a fantastic eater, and he has somehow managed to escape inheriting his father's hilarious sneakiness, which his wiley sister received in spades. He is an old soul in a tiny body.

I used to tease my sister a lot when we were younger - I had a stronger, more brash personality, she was shy and somewhat reserved. I was fight, she was flight. While she was clearly a typical older sibling type, no one ever believed that I was the baby of the family. Who knows how these things happen, they just are they way they are.

So when she got married after college and settled down, I never imagined what my life might be like if she were to have children. I was too preoccupied with my college life - drinking, dancing, pretending to study, etc. Then, all of a sudden, POOF! they had a baby. (although I'm fairly sure she wouldn't exactly characterize it in such an easygoing manner) Then they had another, and even though they weren't my own children, my life was instantly full - and I hadn't even known anything was missing.

Now her baby is a little boy, and instead of feeling old, I just can't believe it's all happening so fast. I am so utterly and profoundly blessed to have these children in my life.

Happy Birthday, G. Who loves ya, baby?

The Dub
Thankfully, I'm back down to my pre-reunion weight. It was an easy week, so hopefully I won't be gaining anything back anymore.

I also need to cut out the booze, now that I'm cutting out some of the soda pop. Next step, actual exercise! It's a miracle!

Starting Weight: 146
Current Weight: 139.6
Goal Weight: 125

Looks like SOMEONE is a-learnin' her swear words.

The Dress
Monday, October 22, 2007
For those of you that wanted to know what I ended up wearing to the reunion, it was the wool strapless dress that I also wore to Heather & Scott's wedding last fall. I wore more casual shoes (black strappy leather ones) instead of the bejeweled, satin option I chose for the nuptials.

To be honest, I'm not thrilled with how I ended up looking, but I had a good vibe going that night regardless - a few cocktails later, it wouldn't have mattered if I'd showed up in jeans. So all is well that ends well, and I didn't have to buy a new dress! (although I did end up buying two new dresses that will be used for wedding season next year - total count thus far is 2)

There are a couple photos in my Flickr account, but for the most part, the night of the reunion will live on in my memory only.

(Pea)Pod Person
Thursday, October 18, 2007
It's official - Peapod and I are in love.

It all started back in the day - this past Tuesday, to be exact. There I was, in the midst of creating a stressful to-do list (instead of actually DOING the things on the list, but ah...such is my frustrating way of getting things done) and I came to the bitter realization that I didn't have any time to get my car and get the groceries.

So I bit the big city bullet - I ordered my groceries to be delivered. Now, folks in bigger cities (like, oh, say New York) might scoff and roll their eyes, for THEY have probably been having their groceries delivered for years now. So I'm late to jump on the bandwagon, but you know what I say to those folks who laugh at my grocery epiphany?

I can afford twice the square footage for half the price, so SUCK IT, Big Apple....people. Ahem.

(Lawyerish excluded, of course.)

The groceries arrived this evening, at 9:45 pm and just in the nick of time too, because the fridge was near empty and I needed to hammer out a pan of pumpkin bars and do some chili prep for tomorrow before turning in for the night. The groceries - they were so gorgeous and fantastic, I thought to myself, "this - THIS - must be blogged about," as if I were the first to think so, and immediately grabbed my camera.

Here are my assorted observations: (click to enlarge hastily taken photographs)

Observation #1: Note to self- never, ever buy the cheapest ground pork available, lest it arrives in a poorly executed airtight package with a homemade, laserjet label from Sweeney Todd's Deli & Butcher shop in Berwyn.

Observation #2: Pay attention to fluid ounces when ordering assorted baking necessities such as oil. No one needs a 48 oz. bottle of oil - it's as tall as the Weight Watchers frozen meals! Come to think of it, don't the two sort of cancel one another out?

I have no idea why this photo rotated itself - sorry for the neck cramp.

Observation #3: Joan of Arc canned beans are always the cheapest - even, as it turns out, online. Isn't it kind of cliche to have beans that are so cheap? Someday, I'm going to start up a high-end canned bean company and make a frillion dollars. Also - what's in a name? I'm not really sure whether it was worth dying an adolescent, martyr-iffic death...but whatever Joan did to make beans so cheap, I'm grateful for it.

Observation #4: I used to really like wandering around the grocery store, picking and choosing the best produce (which I have an innate skill for - the choosing, not the wandering), checking out the newest cheap haircare products, etc., and I really can't say with any certainty that I'll NEVER step foot in a grocery store again...but with a wine & beer shop just across the street, I don't plan on going back very often.

Reunited And It Feels so...Awkward
Wednesday, October 17, 2007
Many interesting things happened during the span of my high school years - O.J. Simpson committed, denied, and was ultimately acquitted of a heinous crime, Kurt Cobain committed suicide, the song "Roll to Me" by Del Amitri mysteriously found its way to the No. 1 billboard spot, and I thought it was a good idea to wear white, full-length leggings under my dance team uniform on gameday fridays. Yikes on all counts.

They set off fireworks during football games now, can you even believe that shit? What a waste of the taxpayer's money. Seriously. A high school football team does not need fireworks. But I digress.

Let's just say I was blissfully unaware of many, many things in my high school years. I was so wrapped around my dancing, my friends, and my schoolwork that I let other things pass me by - like drinking, drugs, and dating. I didn't do either of the first two, and just a tiny bit of the third.

So you can imagine my relative shock and awe last weekend upon the event of our 10-year high school reunion. I went to a large high school in the suburbs of Chicago - graduating class of 780 and something. A proportionately large amount of people showed up (I would estimate 150-160) of that class, and almost all were happy surprises to see. I saw guys I had forgotten I once had a 10-second crush on, girls that I never wanted to see again, and a load of people that I didn't recognize at all.

(the reunion committee, hence the matching jackets)

People have had children, gotten married, gotten divorced, died, gained weight, lost weight - you name it, it happened. It was such a refreshing thing to see - a reminder that even though we thought the world revolved around us back then, we are all just people now. Adults with jobs, lives, responsibilities, burdens, and stories. It was exciting and surprising, and I'm so glad to have been a part of it.

Come to think of it, I feel the same way about high school.

Speaking of fatty treats...
Tuesday, October 16, 2007
As expected, I gained some weight back this weekend. What can I say? It was my 10-year high school reunion (blog post in the works) and I wasn't about to hold back on the cocktails. I was too afraid I would need ol' Liquid Courage to see me through. As it turns out, all those lovely drinkies and the nineteen pumpkin bars I ate after the reunion threw off any efforts I may have made earlier in the week. Oh well, new week, new chance to lose some more.

Starting Weight: 146
Goal Weight: 125
Current Weight 141.2


No fall season is complete without these fatty, wonderful things of goodness and light. I can't remember when the pumpkin bar "thing" began, but I know it was some time in the latter half of high school. Now, I cannot imagine an autumn without them - and a big crockpot of chili, too. Yum! Now you can enjoy them for yourselves because here is the recipe - straight from the recipe annals of my college email account! (click to enlarge)

The image above is a direct scan of the same 8.5 X 11 piece of paper that I printed out on my teeny desk at 508 E. Healey St., and have kept these past 6 years or so. Seriously - if the scan was of a better quality, you'd even be able to see the greasy blotches, marks, and minor wrinkles and tears in the paper. This baby has lived on 7 different refrigerators, and still comes out swinging each year.

Some recipe suggestions: use a handmixer to make the frosting, make sure the cream cheese and butter are at room temperature, don't overdo the cinnamon, and DO NOT (I repeat, DO NOT) switch out the cream cheese with lo-fat or fat-free cream cheese. It will make your frosting taste like paste, and look like baby throw-up. You must use the fully fatted cream cheese. Period.


Coult 45: A Smoking Gun
Friday, October 12, 2007
One of my greatest sources of irritation, besides people who ask obvious questions and bad drivers, is that certain type of person whose chosen purpose in life is to raise the hackles of others. My friend from high school (we'll call him C) just LOVED to get a rise out of people - a goal typically achieved via frustrating and pointless debate and mockery. I probably shouldn't use the past tense, since he still does this. He's happy to argue against the point, just to frustrate others - and he does it with a smile on his face. I'm annoyed just writing about it.

As a person with little to no sense of humor, I naturally found this very irritating, particularly when I was the target. Which I was. Often. So you can imagine how I feel whenever the media jumps all over Ann Coulter. With her latest smear campaign splashed across the newspapers and pseudo-intellectual periodicals, the media has played itself nicely into her hands. Even in posting this small rant, I am calling attention to her entire persona and personal agenda. Whatever. I think she's crazy.

As much as I commend her for exercising her right to free speech, sometimes I really wish she would just shut the hell up.

Getting an Education
Thursday, October 11, 2007
Whenever the end of summer is approaching, I have a tendency to hit a wall where my hair is concerned. Knowing Chicago, it's been a long, overly humid, miserable summer in which I have been forced to wear my hair curly out of necessity.

Back when my hair was insanely long, I was often asked why I just don't straighten it, and make my life a lot easier. There are two answers to that question: (1) straightening my hair (if it's longer than my shoulders) takes about a solid hour out of my day, and (2) any kind of humidity completely ruins any efforts or plans of said straightening.

If you've ever wondered why your curly girl friends (or curly guy friends, for that matter) hate hate HATE summer, there's a handy post over at Whoorl's hizzouse of hair today, explaining why straight hair takes work. She really does an excellent job of breaking it down, and proving once and for all that looking good takes effort, time, and energy.

Yeah Baby, Give it To Me
Wednesday, October 10, 2007
If this apple is considered a rockstar of the apple world, then I guess you can consider ME a fame-grubbing, overly made up groupie. With big hair.

One Down, 14.4 to Go
Bit of a disappointment yesterday at the DoubDub - only 1 pound lost. Then again, I had a rough week last week, full of alcohol that I didn't count and shouldn't have had, and that cheeseburger! OH, that glorious cheeseburger. That I also shouldn't have had.

Starting Weight: 146
Last Week's Weight: 140
This Week's Weight: 139
Goal Weight: 125

C'est la vie - what's done is done. At this rate, I could be 128 by Christmas! (like THAT'S gonna happen...I haven't been 128 since college, but I'm going to think optimistically)

Regardless, I get a new chance this week to get back on track.

Any sound weight loss suggestions/tips from my readers?

And I'm Not Even a Cat Person
Tuesday, October 09, 2007
Things are a bit crazy here right now - in lieu of my new craft tutorial, please check out the online item that made me laugh so hard at my desk, I actually spit apple out of my mouth and on to my monitor.

I know most people really only say that for dramatic emphasis, but I literally spit.

Does anyone have monitor cleaning wipes? Anyone? Bueller?

Okay, here it is...courtesy of I Can Has Cheezburger?.




(wait for it...)




Hahahahahahahahaha AAAAAAAAAhahahahahaha!

That is all.

Monday, October 08, 2007
The following things happened this weekend, leaving me tired and lacking in blogworthy inspiration.

- Two good friends ran (and finished) the 40th LaSalle Bank Chicago Marathon in record high (and really unpleasant) temperatures. Congratulations, Kate and Dave!

- I ate a cheeseburger at a bar, and lo, it was worth every single, saturated calorie.

- We said an early goodbye to our friend Keith, who is leaving Chicago to pursue a new job in San Jose. I had too many beers. You know, in honor of Keith.

- Plans were made in preparation for our 10-year high school reunion. It's this weekend, and after 4 intense hours of trying on everything in sight, I am still not happy with my apparel choices. I went to Water Tower Place on a saturday, people! I was that desperate. Those of you that know me are probably not surprised to hear any of this.

More DIY crap...I mean, craft, CRAFT project blogging tomorrow.

Martha Stewart I Most Certainly Am Not
Thursday, October 04, 2007
I've been on a bit of a craft kick these days, what with the fall and "indoors only" weather quickly approaching. Ok, who am I kidding? I hate being outside. Whatever.

The other day, I had this wild idea about making a message center (of sorts) for my kitchen. I don't have enough counter space for a real cookbook holder, and most of my recipes come from the internet - so I find myself pacing around with the printed out 8-1/2 X 11 recipe stuck into my bra strap so it's at the ready when I need it. Half the time, the recipe ends up coated in a light mist of whatever I am making, not because my boobs are near my cooking, but because I am the sloppiest cook in the entire world.

Sidenote: I also use every dish in the apartment when cooking or baking - I can't be bothered to take the time and wash as I go along. I simply cannot. This is one of the most irritating things about me.

So I decided that I'd create my own version of a bulletin board, and here is a simple breakdown so that you can MAKE YOUR OWN! I know! Just what you ALWAYS wanted to do! I should have my own craft show on the Fine Living Network in which I showcase the world's most random DIY craft projects.

This isn't just ANY run-of-the-mill bulletin board - it's an interchangeable, stylish place to put photos, hang recipes out of harms way, etc. This ain't no tacky cork board from the dry erase aisle at Office Depot.

Ok, so here is what you need to make your own ghetto fabulous DIY bulletin board:
1-2 yards of a fabric of your choice
1 blank, pre-stretched canvas
Some way to attach the fabric to the canvas - I don't own a staple gun, so I used upholstery tacks instead.
1 hammer
1 level
1 ruler or roll of measuring tape

Step 1: Cut your fabulous fabric to fit not just the surface of the canvas, but also the edges, leaving enough to wrap around in the back. I've chosen a moire-like silver polyblend in the hopes of mimicking the stainless steel appliances in my kitchen.

Step 2: After deciding which way the fabric will hang (based on the intended wall placement of the canvas), center the canvas on the piece of fabric and pull one side over to attach. This is the guide for the entire thing, so be cautious. Or just do what I did, and steamroll through this step, and hope for the best. (the second strategy is a lot more justifiable if wine is involved.)

Step 3: Further reinforce the first side of the backing, then pull opposite side tight and anchor. This is a good time to put down the wine, and inspect the tension of the fabric against the canvas. If you can bounce a hand off the front and the fabric moves WITH the canvas, it's tight enough. If the fabric moves by itself, it's too loose.

Step 4: Time to work the corners. If you're really bad at (a) making the bed, and/or (b) wrapping gifts, I'd suggest you go slowly on this one. Fold the top piece of the fabric from the stapled side DOWN over the edge of the looser, unstapled section of fabric. As you trace over the back edge of the canvas, you'll notice that the outer edge of the fabric pulls in - grab it and yank it upwards until you can see the corner of the canvas stretching through the fabric. Work this until you've made a clean corner. Or get somebody who is better at this to do it for you.

Step 5: Repeat steps 3 and 4 until you've got the entire thing stapled up GOOD AND TIGHT. In my case, this took the entire case of upholstery tacks. It's the back, so don't worry - nobody has to see that I'm (ahem, I mean you're) a total, crazy, anal perfectionist.

Step 6: Turn the almost finished piece over to make sure that the fabric is hanging correctly. Or, if you're me, pour yourself another glass of wine and hope like hell that the pattern is straight.

Step 7: Trim any excess fabric from the back of the canvas - trimming enough to allow the proper hanging of said canvas but not so much that the piece sits off the wall. You want it to be as slim and sleek looking as possible.

Step 8: Hang on wall with nails and hammer. Make sure it's placed correctly so that it hides that god-awful landline phone jack that has been bugging you for months.

Step 9: Check to make sure it's level. In my world, if the bubble is even CONSIDERING the middle of the center zone, it's good enough.

Step 10: Grab some pushpins, notes, recipes. and stab away! Gaze lovingly at your fabulous creation, and remember that if you hate it in two months (which I inevitably will), one can always change the fabric.

et Voila! For a total cost of $12 or so, you've got a fantastic, customized message board that is interchangeable and cute! There won't be a picture of my finished message board because I am a complete idiot! Huzzah!

It's That Time of Year Again
Wednesday, October 03, 2007
No, not time to figure out a Halloween costume. No, not time to make pumpkin bars (although I do believe that time is coming, and those fatty, wonderful creations have my name written all over them).

Time to start thinking about my holiday cards.

Historically, I try to come up with a funny photo of my dog dressed in holiday drag of some sort. Last year, I was *this* close to using the caption "Don we now our gay apparel..." but decided against it, for fear that I would inadvertantly alienate any of my homosexual friends and/or family.

I was sorting through my failed attempts from 2006, and wow, it sure wasn't good. Here's some evidence:

This year, I fear a holiday photo card will be difficult. I am thinking more and more that a traditional card would be much, much easier.

Battle of the Bulge: Week 2
Tuesday, October 02, 2007
Another 2.4 pounds down, and I must admit that this week was really tough. I had to ration my calories (seriously, I did) to accomodate a happy hour gathering (which included pizza and beer, much to my delight, then regret). So despite that small setback, I'm still on a downward path, which is enough for now.

Besides, now that I'm 5 pounds lighter, it should only be another week or so until my clothes start fitting better and I stop feeling so uncomfortable all the time. Oh, and I actually hit the treadmill last night. Miracle of miracles...

Starting Weight: 146 lbs.
Current Weight: 140.2 lbs.
Loving: Diet A&W Root Beer (no calories, no caffeine, no guilt!)
Hating: Going to bed hungry

Next installment coming soon - same time next week.

File it Under S for "Sticky Subject"
Monday, October 01, 2007
I hesitate to even begin this post, knowing that I could be inviting unsolicited wrath of all types and kinds, but I have to do it. I'm just so relieved that this has happened.

For the record, I am pro choice. I don't have children. I have never been forced to consider abortion for myself. I do not judge those who are opposed to abortion. I think children are a blessing. Most importantly, I think a woman has every right to choose what is best for herself, her family, her body, and her health.

The embattled Aurora Planned Parenthood clinic has been too long bogged down in a complicated web of permits, protests, and fighting. I am simply happy that the women of the western Chicagoland region still have an option.

A short rant for this afternoon - I'm certain any of my readers out there who are as irritatingly anal as I am.

I don't understand how so many people in this great, big world can put ads, posts, and information in general out into the public realm without checking to make sure it has any accuracy whatsoever. I've blogged here before about my annoyances with typographical and spelling errors, but today I'm particularly irritated by phrases, proper nouns, and descriptions.

To wit: wrought iron. I notice this particular example frequently because, from a design standpoint, I hate it. Can't stand the way it looks.

But what I can't stand EVEN MORE than the product itself is that no human appears to be capable of referencing it properly. It's not ROT iron. It's not ROTH iron. I even saw a Craigslist ad once calling it KRAUT iron. It was hilarious to me until I realized the post was not a joke.

Would it be SO DIFFICULT to look something up? Ask a friend? Check google? Argh!

Next up for consternation analysis: those who say "ax" instead of "ask", people who use the phrase "touch bases" instead of the correct phrase "touch base," and one particular person who apparently can't take the time to properly pronounce "specific" and thinks "pacific" is an agreeable alternative.

ta da!
Did you know this is my 1000th post on this blog? Well it is, and I have absolutely nothing of interest to say. Typical.

Now, where are the sirens and balloons dropping from the ceiling?!