Monday, December 28, 2009

The post where I become a kleptomaniac.

Apparently I am a thief. Of ideas that is. When you come to the realization that you are narcissistic enough to start a blog, you think it's going to be super easy. I'm cute! And witty! And interesting! After about 3 weeks you realize that not only is it super hard to think of stuff to write about everyday but that the only living beings that find you that interesting are your mom and your dogs. And they only love me for the kibble.

I am in a fog of writer's block that I can only assume is a result of the vats of wine and cheese I've consumed over the last week. So I decided to steal a feature today from Jaime, author of one of my favorite blogs that you can find here. She's as cute, witty and interesting as I fancy myself and so I've decided to shoplift her "Media Monday" feature here and detail all the media that I am consuming at this moment:


Image and video hosting by TinyPic

Mr. Valentine and I started watching this show when CBS ran the first season. Dexter is a forensic scientist who moonlights as a serial killer. He's by far the cutest serial killer I've ever seen in my life and incredibly creative at dispatching his victims. But don't worry, he only kills "bad" people so he's kind of like Robin Hood. Well, that is if Robin Hood had been a sociopath who listed "dismemberment" amongst his turn ons. I bought the hubs seasons 2 & 3 for Christmas which I am embarrassed to say we are almost done with. It's really that good.


Image and video hosting by TinyPic

The Road fell into my hands about 4 years late but it is every bit as good as the many glowing reviews would have you believe. Briefly, it's about a father and son traversing a post-apocalyptic world with nothing but a pistol and each other. You know, light holiday fare. I myself only put it down to pour more wine. Don't cheat by seeing the movie that just came out, read the real thing.


Image and video hosting by TinyPic

If you don't own any Wilco, do yourself a favor and get some. Start with "Yankee Hotel Foxtrot" and expand from there.


In terms of blogs that I can't get enough of, this one is currently at the top of my list. Go there for the hysterical recaps of "The Hills" and stay for the surely-I'm-going-to-hell recaps of "Intervention". Comedy gold.


Image and video hosting by TinyPic

I don't go to the movies that often. They're cold, the seats suck and your feet stick to the floor. I have to really want to see a movie to go out to one. The last movie I saw in the theater was "Precious" and holy hell was it good. It's completely depressing yet strangely hopeful and I cried my eyes out. In the effort of full disclosure though, I cry at "The Muppet Christmas Carol" so that might not be an accurate reflection of the film. (That tiny Kermit gets me every time.)

So there you have it. My current media fetishes which paint me as much darker than I actually am. My media Monday isn't quite as awesome as Jaime's but such is life. I'm like Diet Coke. No matter how much you try to convince yourself it just doesn't taste like real Coke.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

No Soup for You!

Just kidding. You can have all the soup you want my pets.

Growing up, I ate the typical California fare: lots of fish, fruit, veggies & Baja style Mexican food round the clock. I ate the obligatory In-n-Out burger obviously, but maintained a largely healthy So-Cal food lifestyle. About 5 minutes into my first Midwest winter, I become keenly aware that my new climate required some heartier fare. All the sudden I wanted, no needed, to eat things like meatloaf and mac'n'cheese and ribs and did I mention meatloaf? 6 years after I packed my life into my little red Jetta, me and the Midwest have kicked that former iron deficiency's ass.

You can only consume so much beef & whiskey though until you are slapped with the reality that you are going to need to be fork lifted out of your apartment one day if you don't throw some veggies down your gullet. So, in an effort to feed both my husband's Midwestern appetite and my need to not ever wear an elastic waistband, here is the super easy, super delicious, super healthy soup I made last night. It is adapted from a Food & Wine recipe and is a perfect meal for a snowy pre-Christmas night:

Spicy Kale Chowder with Andouille Sausage:
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
9 garlic cloves, minced
2 large onions chopped
2 tablespoons minced fresh ginger
1 lb. Andouille sausages, slices 1/4 inch thick
28 oz. can of Italian tomatoes, chopped, juices reserved
3 quarts stock (either homemade turkey or chicken or low sodium store bought)
3/4 lb. Kale stems & ribs discarded, leaves coarsely chopped (I used green & purple Kale, it was gorgeous)
1 can of cannelinni beans, drained and rinsed
Salt & Pepper

Heat the olive oil in a large soup pot. Add the garlic and onions and cook over moderate heat, stirring occasionally, until softened, about 12 minutes. Add the ginger and andouille and cook for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add the tomatoes and their juices; bring to a boil. Add the stock, beans and kale; return to a boil.

Reduce the heat to moderate and simmer the soup until the kale is tender, about 10 minutes. Season the soup with salt and pepper and serve, or let cool and freeze.

OK, so I know that sausage isn't particularly healthy, but look at the rest of it! Tomatoes! Kale! Beans! Ginger! You'll love it, your husband will love it and your ass will thank you.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

"After three years in Chicago, I decided to call it a career." - Ted Lindsay

One of the challenging parts of living in a major metropolis like Chicago is finding an apartment where you can a.) stand to live b.) afford the rent c.) not want to murder your neighbors. Since Mr. Valentine and I lived in sin for years before going legit, we've navigated these waters for some time with varying degrees of success.

Our first place was a studio that was roughly the size of a prison cell and half as charming. But it was clean and cheap and most importantly got us out of our mom's basements.

The next place was better, in the sense that our bed wasn't in the living room. It was small & old, but was an awesome location that allowed dogs, which was important since we had illegally adopted Beans already.

A lot had changed by the time we were ready to move out. Mr. Valentine was a recent grad with a real job! I had stopped tending bar and started working a 9-5 job and we were engaged. By this time Ikea/hand me down furniture no longer had a strangle hold on my decorating sensibilities, so things we're starting to look more like us and less like a gang of Scandinavians fought a roving band of frat boys in a knife fight for the right to decorate.

This time around we decided we needed a sweet city pad which introduced for the first time to the Faustian bargain of city living: apartment vs. neighborhood. Unless you've had the good fortune to be born a brainless, talentless trust fund idiot like the Kardashian/Hilton/Hills losers, you will be forced to decide weather you want a lesser apartment in a cool neighborhood or a nicer apartment in a less desirable 'hood. We went with the latter.

Our third apartment was in an old warehouse building that had been converted to loft condos and it was oh so cool. Vaulted concrete ceilings, exposed pipes, stainless steel, floor to ceiling windows. It was very urban chic and much cooler than we are. It was also located smack dab in between a Salvation Army boarding house, a crack re-hab facility and a homeless shelter. But we were 5 floors up, had a doorman and a private garage, which was a good compromise. We lived there happily through 2 years, another impulse dog adoption and our wedding. We realized soon after the wedding that we'd outgrown the condo due in large part to the insane generosity of our friends and family and my overzealous use of the registry scanner at Pottery Barn.

We started looking to move with the following criteria: 2 beds, 2 baths, dishwasher, in unit laundry, central heat & air, covered garage & some sort of outdoor space. Anyone who's lived in Chicago will tell you that those specs don't come cheap unless you are looking to live in an "up and coming" area. Miraculously we found a place with all our amenities, within budget and moved. It also is conveniently close to a liquor store, pawn shop and blue light cameras. But I don't mind, because I've got my handsome husband, my health, a gorgeous Christmas tree with presents overflowing, a full wine cabinet and a dog that looks like he came from Michael Vick's house. Which helps.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

"Glitter is the herpes of craft supplies." - Demetri Martin

I like to think of myself as a guy's kind of girl. I love beer, whiskey & basketball and have on more than one occasion made some dude my bitch when it comes to sports trivia. That said, I am a total chick too, and said "chickness" seems to flow a little more freely around the holidays.

My most recent expression of girlishness is surrounding Christmas decorations. Mr. Valentine & I braved the snow and got our tree on Monday. You may remember that my Christmas ornaments were STOLEN last year by someone who has a cold dark pit where their heart should be (my money's on Kanye West. I DO live in Chicago). But I finally accumulated a respectable new collection of trimmings for the tree and they are fabulous. Even the hubs thinks so, saying that we replaced our old ornaments with better ones. I concur that this fresh crop of ornaments is better and I can tell you why in one word:


I am not talking about the ill-conceived Mariah Carey movie. I'm talking about Martha Stewart meets overzealous scrapbooking with a hint of 5 year old girl thrown in glitter. My tree looks like Glinda the Good Witch of the North decorated it. I mean there is glitter EVERYWHERE. And it is fantastic. Glitter snowflakes, glitter balls, glitter bows and the Pièce de résistance, glitter tree topper from Pottery Barn that cost as much as the damn tree. (Not joking, not even a little bit.)

But I, like a magpie, am attracted to the sparkle which in my mind makes it a logical investment. Because if you can't drown yourself in glitter at Christmastime, when can you?

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

The Grinch Who Stole my Christmas Ornaments

Some of you know that last July, in the process of moving, someone who surely shall burn in the fiery pits of hell stole my Christmas decorations. I'm not even going to try to analyze the psyche of someone who would steal Christmas ornaments except to say that their Karmic backlash should be swift and forceful. I'm thinking death by fire ants.

But I digress.

So now I have to restock my Christmas decoration arsenal. I had some ornaments that are impossible to replace, but thought I could at least get started with the basics: lights, bows, candy canes & balls (stop laughing pervs). I did not anticipate this to be a Tolkien level task. I figured the basic layers of Christmas tree decorating could be found at Target & Home Depot so I schlepped my poor husband around last night after work to get started. (Me being completely OCD, I need the decorations in advance of the tree to avoid any Charlie Brown Christmas references).

We started at Target, which usually does not disappoint, but it appears they've gone a little off the rails in their quest to be "hip". All I wanted was some bows and red, green & gold balls (again, stop laughing pervs), but they were nowhere to be found. If I wanted a 1970's revival tree with disco balls, hot pink & electric blue I would have been good to go. Apparently, if you're a square like me who just wants a green, red & gold tree, Target has passed you by.

We pressed on to Home Depot, since it defies all logic to shop without buying anything. I had seen an ad with a happy looking family gathered around the friendly Home Depot salesman buying strings of Christmas lights for $1.77. My incredibly patient hubs and I finally tracked down a not so friendly Home Depot salesman and tried our best to recreate the magic of said commercial. That would have been easier had he not laughed when we asked where the $2 lights were with a dismissive, "Those were gone in November." He wandered away muttering about how he hated his job. I hear ya' buddy. I worked retail once.

$18 dollars later, all I have are 600 Christmas lights and memories of the ornaments I use to have. It's a start. I'll find enough ornaments and bows to deck out my tree, even if I have to journey to Walmart.

Scratch that. If it comes down to that I'm switching to Hannukah.