Friday, November 27, 2009

My Super Duper Post Thanksgiving Workout

1. Get up at 11:36 AM (still technically morning)

2. Put on workout clothes/shoes (the cuter the better)

3. Grab husband and dogs

4. Walk for 100 yards, run for 30 (repeat for roughly an hour)

5. Stop by your most favorite coffee shop in the world and get a latte (skim of course) and a Spinach-Feta cheese quiche (um...sure, this is skim too)

6. Amble home at a snail's pace...

...and watch the pounds melt away!

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Ten Things I am Thankful For:

1. My husband. He's cute, he's funny, he lets me buy shoes whenever I want, he's the hardest working person I know and he puts up with me. 'Nuff said.

2. My family. My parents, siblings, aunts, uncles, grandma are all dotted along a sliding scale of awesome. There is not a single one of you that I don't look up to and aspire to be like. For those of you that aren't near me, know that I love you and miss you everyday.

3. My friends. Some are near, most are far but all are amazing. I don't keep up with everyone as often as I should, but know that your friendship means the world to me.

4. My dogs. They are smelly, ill-behaved and require WAY too much attention. They also are the only little beings in the world that kiss away tears, snuggle when you are sick and always are happy to see you. That type of unfailing loyalty and love will do a soul good.

5. My mom. I know, I know, I already called out family but my mom is more than a mom. She's my very best friend in the world and truly the best mom ever. The unconditional love she gives me is without compare. She also has exceptional DNA that I cross my fingers every day filters down to me. She also has a bar. In her house.

6. My very beautiful, most special BFF ever Banana. (You know who you are) You are beautiful, smart, kind, generous of spirit, funny and the bravest girl I know. I have never been more scared than when I thought, however briefly, that you might be taken from me. Thomas Fuller wrote, "If you have one true friend you have more than your share." I certainly do.

7. My health. With the exception of my fallen appendix (RIP), I remain blessed with good health. I should run more and drink less wine but hell, life is short and my body has served me well till now. Keep truckin' little buddy.

8. My memories. I didn't really know what I was getting into when moved to the Midwest on a whim and certainly didn't know how much I'd miss you all back home. The memories of home serve me well in the middle of these cold cold winters.

9. My in-laws. Lots of people hate their in-laws. I adore mine. Since the day they met me, they've welcomed me with warm hearts, good food and even better cocktails. They are simply family to me now. (Just stop asking when we are going to have kids, ok? xoxoxo)

And finally, number 10 is a wish that all of you have as much to be thankful for as I do. Have a wonderful Thanksgiving.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Damn you Tom Skilling. Damn you to hell.

I just saw a commercial for the local news weatherman, Tom Skilling, which can only mean one thing.


My mortal enemy. My arch nemesis. My bete noire.

I have lived in Chicago for almost 7 years now and I've come a long way since my sun-drenched California days. When I moved here, 60 degrees required a coat. Now I consider that bikini weather. 7 years ago, 45 degrees would have given me a petite mal seizure. Now? That's prime grillin' weather baby! That said, I have never, ever, ever gotten used to the snow.

Don't get me wrong, it's pretty. The first one of the year is always so festive...big fat flakes falling onto streets lit by Christmas lights. It's like a Rockwell painting on a Jose Conseco steroid bender.

But then it keeps falling. And falling. And falling. And pretty soon those virginal white flakes have melted into the mucky grey city sludge that turns a grocery store run into a cold, slippery, white knuckle ride that would make Mad Max pee his pants.

When I lived in California, I could smell the ocean. Now I feel the snow. I feel it before it's even started. A chill seizes upon this place and it's almost like a fog rolls in...a fog that won't lift until my tulips start to push towards the sky next May.

I felt it today for the first time this season. Another snow about to fall. Another season of cold weather and warm hearts. And I never thought I'd say this, but I like it. It makes me feel alive and hopeful for the next warm days. It makes me happy for the good cheer and love we feel this time of year. And it makes me ache for the people I can't see, which is why I'm not quite ready for Tom Skilling to tell me what I already know...that snow is coming.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

WARNING: Crack Dip is not to be taken intravenously.

2 posts in one day, I feel so productive! This is another recipe post due to MULTIPLE requests for the crack dip recipe. For the layman, crack dip is a deconstructed buffalo chicken wing. (How American!)

I take no credit for this recipe, it comes straight from my mother in law who in addition to being gorgeous and smart also boasts a well stocked liquor cabinet and an endless supply of awesome appetizers. Here it is in all it's glory:

8 oz. cream cheese, softened
1 cup ranch dressing
1/2 cup Frank's Red Hot Sauce
3/4 or 1 cup shredded chicken (you can use canned chicken, store bought Rotisserie chicken or cook some skinless chicken breasts)
Blue Cheese crumbles

Preheat oven to 350 degrees
Combine cream cheese, ranch, hot sauce & chicken and mix well
Bake at 350 for 20-30 minutes
Top with blue cheese crumbles
Serve with tortilla chips & celery sticks

*Healthier options: I lighten this up (slightly) by using reduced fat cream cheese & ranch, skinless white meat chicken & serving with baked tortillas chips. No one has ever noticed the difference. (When you live in Bears country you have to cut calories wherever possible!)


Total Request Live: Recipe Edition

After my football post I had some requests to share recipes, so here is the first of many to come:

It's a bit counter intuitive for me to post a recipe for hummus b/c I don't really use one. My dad taught me how to make it when I was a kid and at this point I don't really measure anything out. I did make a batch though and tried to get a handle on approximate measurements for reference. It's an imperfect science, so add things to suit your taste.

2 cans garbanzo beans/chickpeas drained and rinsed
2/3 cup tahini (can be found at ethnic markets or Whole Foods)
1/3 -1/2 cup fresh lemon juice
1/2 cup water (more as needed to thin out)
1/4 cup olive oil (more as needed to thin out)
2-3 garlic cloves smashed
Salt/Pepper/Paprika to taste

In a food processor, combine garlic, beans, tahini, lemon juice, water and olive oil. Process until smooth. Check the texture and thin out as needed with more lemon juice, olive oil and/or water. Add salt/pepper/paprika to taste.

This will make a sizable batch. It keeps well in the fridge and can be thinned out as needed throughout the week. It's an incredible cost effective dish to make at home b/c all the ingredients are cheap or pantry staples.

You can also add layers of flavor with whatever you like, roasted peppers, jalapenos, sun-dried tomatoes, basil, etc.

Hope you try it!

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Two Things I Think I Think.

1. If you are unaware that you are carrying a child until it falls out of you, you are probably not well suited to parenthood.

2. This is not good entertainment. It's a modern day freak show like the rest of reality TV.

I'm not going to lie, I have been hypnotized by the train wreck that is "I Didn't Know I Was Pregnant" on TLC. Not because I'm some reality show junkie, but because I cannot for the life of me fathom carrying around a PERSON inside me for 9 months only to be SHOCKED when it frees itself from my loins.

The best part of this show is the "in retrospect" segment. They always go something like this: "In retrospect, the insatiable appetite for anchovy eclairs was a little odd," or "I thought I had gas, you know, the kind of gas that feels like a tiny little person is kicking you from the inside".

And I can't figure out what is worse, the seemingly infinite pool of women who have no clue they're incubating a human being or TLC for pretending this is something we should all be watching.

That's all for today. I've got to go eat some chocolate coated pickles. (Just kidding mom.)

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

The Most Important Post In The World.

Is about my hair.

I have really good Italian hair (Thanks Mom!). It's long and thick and curly and pretty. Besides the rogue greys that have begun to infiltrate my temples like Germany into Poland, I'm pretty lucky follicularly speaking.

The problem with said great hair is that it takes an enormous amount of time and enough carcinogenic hair products to take down a grizzly bear.

Today I was presented with one of the most infuriating problems a woman has. I pulled back my hair last night at dinner, pinned it up carelessly without looking. Lo and behold, it looks like magazine hair. Tousled but not messy, bangs just right, volume without looking like Wilt Chamberlain circa 1974.

Cut to today. I exerted a massive effort to achieve the previous night's effortless chic. Big mistake. Huge.

So today, I look like Lilith from Cheers. Not what I was going for.


Sunday, November 15, 2009

Are you ready for some football??

Just because me and Mr. Valentine's football teams suck, doesn't' mean we still don't love watching football. We just pretend to be Steeler or Saints fans like the rest of the country. Anyhoo, since our fabulous BFF's C & V are coming over, the meal is a little more substantive than normal, but still perfect fall football food. So here we go:

Blood Orange Mimosas (for the ladies)
Beer (for the dudes)
Em's homemade hummus & pita
Buffalo Chicken Dip (aka "Crack Dip")
Chopped Caprese Salad
Spicy Pork Po' Boys with pickle mayo
Buckin's Cajun Potato Salad

I love Sundays, lets all keep our fingers crossed that next year the Bears & Raiders don't suck.

Friday, November 13, 2009

Flattery will get you nowhere.

Here is a re-enactment of the first five minutes of my morning at work:

Co-worker: Did you go out last night?
Me: No. Why?
Co-worker: You don't look so good.
Me: Wow. Thanks.
Co-worker: No, I mean, you don't look awful, it's just that your eyes are bloodshot.
Me: Again. Thanks.
Co-worker: I went out last night if that makes you feel better.
Me: It doesn't.

There are some things you just don't say to people, especially women. I know I'm not Giselle, but I fancy myself fairly attractive. Just because I'm wearing a headband doesn't mean I'm recovering from a bender at the Chateau Marmont.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Allow Myself to Introduce...Myself.

Last week I introduced you all to Jake the Mistake but failed to feature our first pooch. So without further ado, this is Bailey, aka "The Beans":

Bailey is the yin to Jake's yang. The lady to his tramp. The Kelly Kapowski to his Zach Morris. Like any well kept woman, Beans enjoys the finer things in life. She loves sleeping on Pottery Barn sheets, hates kibble and runs into the room whenever I open a bottle of champagne. Besides the fact that she compulsively licks the wall, she's practically perfect. Notice I said practically.

F***ing dog keeps running away!! Our backyard fence has a sizable gap between its bottom and the ground. My dear husband assures me he will fix it any day now, hopefully before she makes it to the border of Indiana. She slithers out and makes us chase her through our neighborhood until we lure her back.

On top of this being terrifying, it's downright annoying. The last time she did it was on Sunday. I took her and Jake out to pee before I went to brunch/cooking class with my good friend. I had to chase her for THIRTY MINUTES.

While I appreciate the assistance in keeping my winter fat at bay, I most certainly do NOT appreciate being made tardy to the mimosa party. Sunday is the one day of the week that you can drink in the morning without judgement and I will be damned if she takes that from me.

Are you reading this my darling hubs? FIX THE DAMN FENCE.

Kisses, Valentine

Sunday, November 8, 2009

We will title this segment...

...clues that I am losing my edge.

I will preface this by saying that I am not old. There is nothing more annoying than a twenty-something bemoaning her aged state, which I'm not. That said, I am noticing some disturbing new trends as I inch towards my twenty-tenth birthday that indicate my coolness factor is rapidly diminishing. You be the judge:

1. I ate grapefruit for breakfast BOTH days this weekend.

2. I Tivo'd both Sunday Morning AND 60 Minutes. And I've already watched them both.

3. I got unnervingly excited at the prospect of mulling cider.

4. I saw a skankily dressed teenager and muttered "where are her parents?" under my breath.

I wasn't always like this. I use to have some street cred, but I think it's waning. Oh well, I may not be smoking on my dad's roof anymore but I still do know Tupac's entire catalogue by heart. So I got that goin' for me.

Which is nice.

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Fido...did you burn a cross on my lawn?

So I was lazing around this morning, minding my own business when I saw something that horrified me to my core: the new Snuggie commercial. For those of you living under a rock, the Snuggie is essentially an ugly fleece blanket with sleeves that looks remarkably like the Grand Dragon's klan robes.

I don't begrudge anyone comfort. Really I don't. I have a makeshift Snuggie myself, although mine is just a blanket that Jake chewed a hole in. Do I secretly like it in the privacy of my own home? Yes. Would I wear it around town? Nooooooo.

This commercial offends my sensibilities on many levels. First is the implication that it is appropriate to wear a blanket out and about to say, a soccer game. It's not. I played many many sports growing up. My parents shuttled me around to soccer, diving, swimming, water polo and music. I'm pretty sure they mustered up the energy to thrown on jeans before leaving the house. But I digress.

This is not the worst part though. The most egregious part of the commercial is that they have expanded their product line. I give you Exhibit A:

DOGS PEOPLE. If you and your Stepford family want to raise the roof in your Snuggies, knock yourself out, but do not, I repeat DO NOT inflict said trauma on a helpless little pooch. This dog would be totally justified in ripping out the jugular vein of whoever did this.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

And just like was gone.

The writer's block that is. Oh, and my husband. Mr. Valentine is on his way to the west coast to see his little brother's last high school football game, so it's just me, Jake, Beans & my wine cabinet. (I kid. Kinda.)

So I was floundering for something to write about and, as these things often happen, inspiration slapped me in the face and called me Sally. (Which is also not my name, so keep trying stalkers.) The hubs and I were driving home for lunch when we passed a school. There was a group of children outside, maybe 20, all different ages. They were running around in the newly fallen leaves, tossing them in the air, throwing them at one another, rolling in them and smiling the smiles that only come from experiencing pure joy. It was so refreshing, in the era of iPods and Wiis and Kindles to see that for children, joy never has and never will require a USB port.

So I am challenging myself to find that joy in my own days, wherever possible. We adults get so bogged down in the minutia of everyday life that it sometimes feels like it's been weeks since I've smiled a smile like those children. So I'm going to try to slow it down this year. Mull some wine. Cook for my family and friends. Watch my little brother play football. Sing with my mom. Take the dogs to the park without worrying about the mud.

Hell, I might even roll in the leaves. It won't be long until they're gone.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Writers block already. This does not bode well.

For the moment, no one knows this blog exists, which essentially makes it the virtual version of me talking to myself. That's probably a good thing because I have no idea what to talk about, which will come as a shock to anyone who knows me in real life.

I thought that I would shoot for a James Joyce stream of consciousness vibe until I figure out my angle. To that end, I would like to introduce you to Jake:

Jake is what we lovingly refer to as "Our Little Piranha Fish." (Big sloppy kisses to anyone who gets that reference) Jake is my second little shelter mutt, he appears to be Rottweiler/Shar Pei/Pit Bull. Watch out Labradoodles. This is the next big designer mutt, assuming the masses are itching for stinky, loud and destructive little pooches with disproportionately large heads. Jake will make frequent appearances and occasionally guest blog so I thought it only polite that you be properly introduced.


If I am not mistaken, I have successfully gotten this blog up and running. I look forward to one day having someone other than my mother read it.