This summer marks our tiny kitty Latte's 18th birthday. She's about to graduate from High School! When I first met Latte, she was really skittish and wouldn't let anyone pick her up. However, I am sort of a kitty whisperer, and now, Latte is chummy and not only able to be picked up and held, but also held in a presentational way and "flown" around the house.
The one thing she doesn't do, however, is sit on our laps or snuggle with us. It can get quite frustrating, because she's so precious.
However, we've made some progress. The other day, we were having a family couch session--Parker was on me, Latte was next to Fuzzy--and after a while, Fuzzy looked over and excitedly noted that both Latte's butt and head were touching his leg. I handed him my phone and said "Take a picture!" and here it is--proof that Latte IS capable of cuddling. Adorable!
Last night, I got the courage to go back to dance class. It was my first time back since May 4th, if you remember my hip hop nightmare. (I feel like this is a common theme for me--going BACK to dance class. I know that taking time off from class is a part of life, and since I am doing it for my mental and physical self and not a career, I should never feel bad when I stop going. But everytime I go BACK, I feel like it is this big momentus obstacle I need to conquer.) I have been feeling better about my knee, and seeing a recent performance of Hubbard Street lit the fire under my ass again and made getting back to class sort of an obsession. I looked at the class schedule, and saw that my favorite teacher was still teaching Jazz II on Thursdays at 6:30. My body moves most naturally to jazz/ lyrical, so I thought it would be a safer choice than hiphop. Also, less jumping. What made it better is that my friend Brandi wanted to go with me, so it was nice to have a friend there and not go it alone.
It was so great being back! The teacher was so sweet and supportive and kept checking in to make sure that I wasn't hurting during the warmups and routines. It's obvious to me that I've been out of class a long time--I've lost a lot of my leg strength and my feet need some more stretching out, but I am so happy to say that my body did better than I expected it to! It felt great to just dig in and GO THERE. My body stretched and sweated and hurt, and the hard core muscle and ab work at the beginning felt amazing. When it came time to do the floor work, things got really tricky, but it felt good just to MOVE. There were only 5 people in class, too, so that was nice--lots of space to be yourself.
I've never been a technically strong dancer. There is a lot that I cannot do. Where my strength lies as a dancer is my ability to pick up choreography very quickly and understand the counts and rhythm of things. There's something about timing, movement and rhythm to me that just sort of clicks in my head (similarly, when I look at something such as number sequences or words, even if my brain doesn't consciously log the information at that point, I will later be able to replicate what it is that I saw. It makes certain puzzle games very easy for me.) The combination that we did is one that the class had worked on last week, but when we started, the teacher looked at me and said "you'll pick it up quickly," so that was nice validation. The routine was super hard, and there was stuff I couldn't do (but I couldn't have been able to do them pre-injury either), but there was a lot that I COULD do. Especially this weird split crawling weird thing we had to do. My God, it felt amazing. And my knee held up like a champ!
Afterwards, I told the teach that I had been scared to come back, but that knowing I was going to have him as a teacher was my safety net. He said my timing was good--he'd hadn't taught in 2 months and had just come back. It was meant for me to be back! I can't wait to go again next week.
Then, this morning, exhausted as a mofo, I got up at 5:50am and went for a run with Andrea. I don't know how far we ran (2ish miles? a little less?) in 26:30. It was haaaard, but I am so glad we did it.
I am not going to be able to move tomorrow.
I am really proud of myself for my perserverance and for getting back into class. I need to dance. I need to move. It's the thing that comes more naturally to me. Why do I ever deny myself?
Fuzzy and I are going hog wild this year, and signing up for a ton of runs. He's signed up for more that I am, so these are the ones I have scheduled. If you are planning on running any of these, let me know!
Also, because we are awesome/crazy, we are considering doing the South Shore Sprint triathlon on July 28th as a pre-tri tri and anniversary celebration, and also the Hell Run on September 1, because, hey--Coolio!
Here is a list of recent occurrences that concrete my status firmly in the "I am becoming a cranky old lady" camp.
1) A few weeks ago, while leaving for work, there was a really strong skunk smell in our kitchen. It was bizarre. When we exited our back door, we were hit with a thick wall of marijuana smoke. Fuzzy informed me that a whole lot of teenagers were exiting the area below our staircase where they were easily hidden. I was surprised he didn't say anything to them. They left, and then before we drove off, they walked back through our alleyway. I stayed in the car while they walked by, so that they would be too intimidated to go back down to their "smoking lounge."
For a few weeks after that, I obsessively checked the landing to make sure that kids weren't stowing away down there. I considered putting up a "No Smoking" sign down there as a passive aggressive way to tell them to stop.
Then one day, I smelled cigarette smoke and heard a lot of voices chattering. I exited my apartment, and rounded the corner to the staircase below. Caught in the act!! I told the teenagers to please stop smoking below our apartment, that it stinks up our kitchen and that it isn't their private hangout. Literally 6 kids were crammed up against the wall trying to not be seen. One kid jumped out and said "Yes, ma'am, we won't do it again" and then, like a clown car, one by one the teens sheepishly left the little cave, while I stood there watching them all and saying "Let's move em out. Here we go." etc etc.
Fuzzy informed me that I did the city version of "You kids get off my lawn!"
2) At the office where I work, we have exposed buzzers/ doorbells on the street. We're also really close to a middle school, and kids walk by between 3:00 and 4:00. Every single day, we get at least one buzz in that hour. I've worked there for over 5 years, so I'm used to it. So the other day, I was taking out the trash, and I saw one kid poise his finger over the top button and run his hand down all 7 buttons. What did I do? I call out to him "Hey! Thanks for buzzing our apartments every day! We love it--it gives us a nice mid-afternoon jolt." I was met with an expressionless stare. I bet he thought I was really lame. We've gotten a buzz every day since.
3) This past Friday night, Fuzzy and I had a night in, catching up on some tv. Each time we would start a new show, I would exclaim "LET'S STAY UP ALL NIGHT!" I did that until I couldn't be awake for another second and it took everything I could to walk to the bedroom to go to sleep. I looked at the clock--it was 12:05.
4) Y'all all know that I love me some music videos. The other night, I was working on a project and I put it on MTV Hits as background noise. A video came on for some pop starlet with red hair (I wish I could remember who it was so I could link to the video, but alas, the memory's going.) In the video I think she was trying to be sexy, but how she tries to accomplish this is by wearing a leotard and sticking her ass in the air over and over again while on all fours. It was really just embarrassing. I was trying to describe the video to Fuzzy later, and the following sentence came out of my mouth: "I mean, I wonder what her parents think about it."
(Sidenote: I think this blog post is going to push my triumphant Judy Tenuta post off the front page of my blog. Goodbye, Judy...I'll miss you. But don't worry, you won't be forgotten. I think I just made Judy Tenuta be my unofficial blog mascot in my mind. Judy forever! Oh, in writing this, another old lady story--I was telling a friend of mine recently about the Judy Tenuta project, and he had no clue who Judy Tenuta was. Fuzzy and I remembered later that he's a number of years younger than I am...so he missed that whole portion of pop culture. KIDS, GET OFF MY SHED!)
UPDATE! Because my brain works in really weird ways, as I was driving into work today, the name of the artist in point #4 popped into my head. It's Neon Hitch, and the song is Love You Betta, but really, it's F U Betta (oh, brother) but this is the TV friendly version. The embarrassing video is here.
Today Andrea and I ran for almost 29 minutes. It was a tough slog--I was feeling really achy and heavy on my feet--so I am proud of us for pushing through. Then I went home and biked for 20 minutes. Mini brick day!
Today's my dad's birthday. I'm surprised that for me, as time passes, it is getting harder and harder on these anniversaries. I've been a big grouch all week, and I've been weeping about everything. I have no doubt that it is due to the weight of the week and today's date.
I miss my dad a lot. I would really love to talk to him. And I would really love to hug him.
This might sound weird, but I like to think that my dad got a really great birthday present this year. Our old lovely wonderful cat Bobbie passed away this week. She's been living at my Memaw Reid/ Aunt Susan's house since we moved mom out of her house, and she's been enjoying being a yard cat for the last couple years. My dad was obsessed with cats, so this week, I know my sweet little Daddy is happy to see his "Gurgley Girl."
Today I am treating myself to a massage and some other spa treatments. I am going to eat some good food. I am going to honor my dad's life and the good man that he was. Treating myself nicely is my give to him and his memory.
Our friends Ryan and Sylvia introduced us the other day to Holi, a Hindu Spring festival of colors. At this celebration, scented, colorful powders are thrown on each other--how could we skip something like that? The event was a Bhangrateque (that link has sound)--a night club featuring techno Bhangra music (which is awesome.). The event was at Tantrik, and we were in and out before the party really got jumping. Cause I mean, I have no business being at a nightclub. I'm blogging this at about 11pm and I am barely awake. But it was neat to see that part of going out and seeing the awesome dancing that was taking place on the dance floor. And Sylvia made sure that we all got sufficiently colored. It was a lot of fun! Here are photos:
Sylvia and I before.
Fuzzy and Ryan before. Fuzzy had a white hat! Ryan had Windows Phone!
Oooh Y'all...it's been a busy week! I have SO much that I can't wait to blog about, I just need to find the time to do it. I anticipate that Wednesday will be busy, too, so don't forget about me! I'm here!
It's St Patricks Day! The sun is shining, the weather is perfect, and Fuzzy and I have no plans. He's making some food, and I'm in the sunroom with the windows open, smelling some air and looking out at the neighborhood. Parker's in a sunbeam, I'm in jammy pants. LIFE IS GOOD.
There are literally 10 things that I want to blog about today, but I am kinda out of it today--I'm headachy and crampy, so you know I am a lot of fun. Ibuprofen is my best friend today! Hello!
I am taking today as a rest day, exercise-wise.
Yesterday I was exhausted and crampy, too, but instead of resting, I decided to go for a walk. The weather was gorgeous and about 80 degrees (!! I was in a tank top!) and I just took off, sans ipod, into the nature trail, so I could listen to the rustling of leaves and the birds chirping and just smell the air. I love the smell of dirt and grass and the river, and I don't get enough of it. It is amazing how it can transform you. The hot sun on my skin was such a gift. I did a lot of thinking, planning and praying*, and I just kept on walking. When I got to where I was going to turn around, there was a crossing guard at that intersection, and he stopped traffic, so I couldn't just turn around--he stopped traffic for me! So I kept walking. And before I knew it, I was at the Ghandi statue, which is the 1.5 mile marker (I know this from running with Shannon when she was in Chicago.).
It was a good walk--3 miles total in an hour--and I am glad that I had changed into workout clothes, cause I got kinda sweaty. And I am glad I went when I did, cause it got COLD last night!
I hope to ride my bike outside tomorrow, if it isn't too rainy.
Erica's Advice for the Day: When in the sun, always put sunscreen on all of your exposed body, not just your tattoos. You'll be happy you did.
*Here are a few of the things that I prayed for: Mom's health, Christopher and Katie in Africa and their health, my friend Carrie and the baby she is carrying, and to ensure that Fuzzy and I have a healthy training season. I also thanked God for my health, my life, the beautiful weather, and for giving me the gift of happiness and freedom from depression. I have a lot to be thankful for!
I just flipped over to the ole Google Chrome (I should note that I've been using Google Chrome--if I don't know up on another browser's page one, screw them), to see how I was doing with my Campaign, and THERE IT WAS!! THE MOST GLORIOUS VISION!
I MADE IT TO PAGE 1 OF JUDY TENUTA'S GOOGLE IMAGE SEARCH!!
See us? Here!
And here's proof that it really is on Page 1!
I can't tell you how excited this makes me! How much job I feel! How much of a Love Goddess I am now! THANK YOU ALL FOR YOUR SUPPORT! THANK YOU, JUDY!!!
For a while now, the concept of going to the City Museum in St. Louis has been floating around in our subconsciousnesses. Neither Fuzzy nor I can remember who first told us about it--I remember our friend Claire telling us about it, and we know some people who are getting married there later this year...but it just sort of started popping up in conversations here and there. So when I was considering buying the Radiohead tickets (there was like 1 day when I had convinced myself that I wasn't going to buy them), we decided to make a weekend out of it, and check out the museum the next day.
There was no way to prepare myself on what to expect. Nor is there really any way to comprehend what I experienced last Saturday.
The City Museum is barely a museum...it's actually more of an amusement-park-freak-show-extravaganza. It's filled with caves and climbing structures, holes and slides. Basically, if you can see it, you can go there. Something looks climbable? Climb it. Think you can fit in that hole? Crawl into it. Nothing is off limits (except in one of the 3 places I saw "do not enter" tape.) A third of the places are in pitch black darkness. There are slides everywhere. There are several floors indoors, an outdoor city, and a rooftop. There's a 10 story windy slide, half of which is in the dark. The place was packed with children (children have an advantage here--more places to crawl into), but there were plenty of adults and couples without children, so we didn't feel weird being there. (In fact, it is open til 1am on weekends, and after 5pm on Fri and Sat, you have to be at least 18 or have adult supervision.) It took me a little while to really get into it...Fuzzy just instantly jumped right in, but I wasn't so sure. In fact, a lot of the time, I felt like this:
I think the turning point for me was the big slide--we did it fairly early in our visit, and it was exhilarating!! I couldn't stop giggling for a long time. After that, we just sort of went hog wild and free, going anywhere that looked intriguing, and everything looked intriguing.
While crawling through the caves, we found this giant shaft. So we went in there. These photos are taken with flash--it was pitch black in the tube:
Here are some other photos of the indoors:
I dont know what this is, but I really liked it.
Here is a video of us going down the Monster Slide. The poles on the slide had art painted on them, and they spun, so you could rattle and spin them on the way down. Also, please note, in the beginning of the video, when I take off, to the left, there is a giant coil thing elevated, and you can see the legs of someone climbing in it.
And then the outside...that's a whole other experience.
Yes, you are seeing that right. There are people up in that coil thing.
Now, I am ok with heights. I sometimes even like them! What I can't handle, however, is being somewhere up high and then looking UP. So when we crossed this one bridge (that had a crawlspace underneath it--I looked down and there were a ton of kids crawling underneath where I was walking, all of us a few stories in the air--you can see this in the photo above) and got to the other side, I sort of reached my climbing limit. Fuzzy, however, is an ADVENTURER and loves climbing, so he wanted to tackle the coil climb. We parted ways, and I went into this huge iron bowl type thing to take photos.
Look at him go!
At this point, I was terrified, and so scared and nervous for Fuzzy. I had to sit on the bottom of the thing I was in, and wrap my arm around it to brace myself from thinking that I was falling. A little girl in the structure was scared--her friends had left her and she was crying--and a women was trying to help her. I felt so helpless--I was just as scared as the girl, and I wasn't even the one climbing. Look at him!
He was literally several stories directly above me. I wanted to puke.
He made it down the slide on the other end, and I cautiously made my way across the bridge again. Thankfully, this place has several bars, so we went and had some BBQ ribs and beer. All better! Before we left, Fuzzy said "I just really want to go up into that castle." Well of course--why wouldn't we?
Fuzzy in the castle, with the chaos behind him.
We were there for about 4 hours, and probably could have stayed 4 more. I am so amazed by this place-I don't know how they don't have more injuries and I can't IMAGINE how expensive their liability insurance must be. The people of St. Louis are lucky to have this in their town. We can't wait to go back.
Ok, so today, for a brief period, BOTH photos of me with Judy Tenuta were on Page 2 of her Google Image search!!! But then, about an hour later, the close-up was down to Page 3. But we are moving in the right direction.
Things I am loving about this: 1) If Judy Tenuta Googles herself, there are these random photos of her and a weirdo in a black and white wig. I wonder if she remembers that this photo even happened, considering that the full body one was just of her looking up from signing someone else's autograph and saying "huh?" 2) If she has a Google Keyword search on herself, every day this week, she is getting alerts telling her that some creep is posting about her every day this week. Well, it is just a link to this blog, but I am sure if she clicks over to look, she will think that I am a creep. But really I am not! Juudy Juuuudy! I am a fellow comedienne!
If I were on Twitter, I would say "@lovegoddessjudy Judy! I am campaigning to be on Page 1 of your google site! Tweet this pic! #campaigntogetericareidonpage1ofjudytenutasgoogleimagesearch
I'm not just doing this for me, I am doing it for all of mankind. (ok, so maybe I am doing this just for me.)
I feel like a rockstar this morning!! My friend Andrea is doing the International Distance triathlon this year, too, (though she's no newbie to it like I am--she's hardcore and has done it before) and she lives just a few short blocks away from us. Yeah! Training buddy! We were emailing about times that we could get together to run and bike, and last night at 10pm, she emailed me saying she was going for a run at 6:15am and did I want to join? I thought about it--I am notoriously not a morning person (or a night person--I am a champion afternooner, though) and decided "why the heck not!?" The time is now to take risks and to challenge myself, right? So I set my alarm for 5:50am, and went to bed about 11. I slept well (except when I had to remove the hot 20 pound cat from my left arm at 2am cause I couldn't move) and I woke up every few hours to check the clock. I am good at waking up when I know that I have to be somewhere--its every other day that I can't make it out of bed. So I got up before the alarm went off, got dressed, and headed over while it was still dark out. Today is supposed to be a glorious 78 degrees, so it was in the 50s already this morning--I didn't need a coat. We started at the lake path at Bryn Mawr, and ran down to about Lawrence, I guess, cut over to the road nearer to the lake and back, and ran for 25 minutes without stopping! I am so proud of us! When we finished, we did some stretching and looked out over the water--being at the lake as the sun is rising is really spectacular.
I am amazed at the difference it makes to run with a buddy and to talk to someone--it didn't feel like a chore to run and I never once thought about stopping or thought that I couldn't go on. Instead, the run seemed easy! I'm excited about having a spring and summer of training with Andrea. I am also really happy to report that, although my knee was hurting last night after my biking yesterday, it held up great in the run! Thanks, Robot Kneebrace!
What's so funny to me is that I haven't known what to do with myself since. I was home at 7am, and normally I don't get up til about 7:45. So I took a long bath, petted the cats for a while, went to the coffee shop (which didn't take long--when you go at 8:00amish, no one is there) and then came in to work early. Look at all this extra day I have!
One of my favorite things about doing Cows on Parade is seeing people see the cows. Today I was taking some photos at Millennium Park, and I wasn't next to the cows. They were just sitting alone on a bench in front of a shrub, and a group of guys walked by and all nudged each other and pointed.
I love seeing people wonder what it is I am doing.
I have given myself a goal--to work out 6 days a week, in some form or fashion. I have a lot more energy and I feel better when I am active, so I am going to find the time to do it. YEAH!
This weekend, on the way home, we stopped into WalMart to get some twine (that's another story to come), and of course, if you let the Gerdeses out loose in a WalMart, things are going to be purchased. WMart happens to have my favorite line of workout clothes, Danskin Now, so I got 2 new pairs of workout pants that are awesome (and were only $12 and $14!!) and the Jillian Michaels Shred it with Weights kettlebell DVD. I enjoy using the Kettlebell, and decided to get a workout that isn't just the "how to use it" workout that came with it. Even though that one is tough.
I did level 1 yesterday, and it wasn't that bad! These last few times I've done a DVD, I've been so worn out and shaky afterwards that walking is hard, and then I am sore for days after. I found that the Jillian circuits weren't terrible--I was able to do all the exercises except the jumping one (I've never been a jumper), and today I am not miserably sore. Maybe it was easier? Maybe I am getting stronger? Both? Either way, I like it. I think the Level 2 one might be way more intense, though--the DVD menu shows them doing pushups off the kettlebell handle. Yikes.
Today I rode the bike for a half hour. I listened to Radiohead and focused on a sleeping Latte. I AM SO HARDQORE.
Gmail does this thing so that if you put periods into the first part of an email address, it goes to the account without the periods. So email@example.com goes to firstname.lastname@example.org, etc, etc. And a lot of people use gmail these days, so it is often times the assumed email client when one is guessing an address. Apparently, there are a ton of Erica Reids in the world. We all know about the famous one and also the one who loved horses when she was 16 over a decade ago, but there are others out there. How do I know? Because I get all their emails. Some emails with periods in different places. I get at least one email a week for a different Erica Reid. I try to be polite and reply with a "Wrong Erica," but sometimes I just delete them. Here is a sampling of emails that I have gotten recently:
1) A flight itinerary to Puerto Rico. 2) A request to redesign the website for a hip hop dance studio in Austin, TX. 3) Numerous emails from someone's cousin who was deployed overseas (come to think about it, I hope those weren't actually from my cousin...) 4) A group of friends trying to convince me to take boudoir shots with them in Colorado. 5) A presentation report. 6) A series of photos of frogs. This one is ongoing and is happening currently. It's from a garden designer in San Francisco, and I think it is for a web redesign, but still, it is funny to keep getting giant photos of frogs in my inbox.
My goal yesterday was to bike for an hour. Since I've been biking inside, I was concerned about getting bored easily, so Fuzzy set up the computer with the first episode of this season's Top Model* for me to watch. It worked great! When the show was over, I listed to Hail to the Thief, and guess what happened? I biked for an hour and 10 minutes! That's a whole half an hour longer than my last bike ride! I felt like a million bucks after!
*Oh, Top Model. This is cycle 18. I've been watching since cycle 2, and then went back and watched cycle 1 (and later again cycles 2 and 3 with Fuzzy). It is so dumb and frustrating (a photoshoot pairing Pocahontas and John Lennon? Seriously?) but I love it so damn much. Guilty pleasure. Well, maybe not so guilty...
Just kidding, it was AMAZING! Oh my gosh, I loved every second of it. This was my 3rd time seeing Radiohead in concert, and I think it was my favorite. We were way up high, but you could still make everyone out, which is great, cause it would be a shame to miss seeing Thom Yorke's famous dancing.
I know it seems silly to drive 5+ hours to see a concert when you live in the 3rd biggest city in the country. But at the time the St. Louis tickets went onsale, there was no Chicago date set. Recently, I learned that they are coming to the Chicagoland area this June, but we'll be in NY for a friends wedding and would have missed the concert. BOOM.
Our hotel was awesomely about a block away from the stadium. See? This was the view from our hotel:
Since I'm a nervous nelly about being places on time, I made Fuzzy go with me to the stadium early so that we could find our seats, get drinks, and visit the merch table.
Speaking of merch, I got this awesome shirt and this guy, the Crying Minotaur:
He's made from old tour t-shirts!
Here was our view:
And Radiohead in action:
Ok, so that photo is not so great, but it's something!
The lightshow was amazing. They had all these flat paneled monitors on cables that would raise and lower and go into a different position for each song, and a row of monitors on the top of the stage. They had cameras on each band member, so you could see them play and sing and things would fade in and out. You can kind of see it here:
I got chills at the beginning of almost every song. I got teary eyed 4 times. It was impossible to sit still, so I did a lot of rocking, bouncing, head nodding and leg slapping while in my chair. (I feel for the girl sitting next to me--I was on her right, and her date on her left was Super Fan who really wanted to impress her. He kept explaining things to her and showing that he knew when drum riffs were happening and singing lyrics to her. She seemed unimpressed by the whole thing, and there she was, sandwiched between 2 people who were rocking back and forth dancing.)
They did 2 encores, and they could have done 100 more. Every song was amazing. Oh man, I can't rave about it enough!
* This was awesome and done with recording vocal loops. ** I think this was my favorite performance of the night. The monitors were arranged in such a way that it looked like one big giant distorted Thom face. My favorite Radiohead songs are the really lilting vocal slow somber ones (ironically and unfortunately, the ones that Fuzzy likes the least), and Amnesiac is one of my favorite of their albums, so it was gorgeous and chilling.
You might remember this post from 2009, or this post from 2011in which I discuss the very simple way to become a hipster with a few simple accessories. Well, last night, on the way back from St. Louis, we stopped at a Wendy's for a quick dinner (sidenote: I am not proud of the fact we ate fast food.) It was the COLDEST Wendy's I'd ever been in, colder inside than out. I had to go to the car to get my coat to wear inside it was so cold.
When we went back to the car, I put on my hat and my scarf to continue the drive. It was nighttime, so I was wearing my glasses. Then the following exchange happened:
Me: Aw, dammit! Look at what I am wearing! I'm totally a hipster right now! Fuzzy: Well, that and the fact you are driving back from a Radiohead concert.
I am terrible at waiting for things or killing time. Anticipation is not my strong suit. The Radiohead concert starts in an hour, and the stadium is a block from our hotel. The view out our window is of it. So we wait. Fuzzy is playing a game. I'm pacing the floor. So excited! But don't know what to do with myself. La dee da.
Hey! Hop over to www.foursquirrels.com for the newest Drunk Monkeys! It's another good one (if I do say so myself.)
Ok, so this post killed 1 minute...
I just ordered chili cheese enchiladas from an old Route 66 diner on the way to St Louis, for the hope of them being like the ones at The Elite. We'll see...
Update: they were good, similar but not the same. It was essentially cheese with some chili and onions on it. So it was a plate of grease.
Yes, it was delicious.
When Fuzzy and I got married, one of the best gifts we received was a Bialetti Aluminum Stovetop Espresso Pot from our friends Becky and Andy. We didn't register for it, so we didn't know what to do with it at first. Becky and Andy were visionaries--they knew we would love it before we did--and now we use it all the time. I will most always choose espresso over regular coffee, so our Bialetti has been through the ringer over the years. Especially when we got our milk frothing methods down to a science.
The pot we have is I think a 4 cup pot or something, and we all know how a "cup" in coffee terms is something teeny-tiny like 6 oz. And if you are someone like me, you always want a LOT of coffee, so we were finding that we were making multiple pots of coffee on the weekends. We decided that it was time to upgrade and get a larger pot.
One night, after a meal at the Clybourn Goose Island and working on our MBAs (Masters of Beer Appreciation--you drink a certain number of beers, you get your name on a plaque. I can't WAIT to get my name on that plaque.), we found ourselves a little too inebriated to drive home. So we did the only logical thing--we went shopping at the Patagonia and Bed Bath and Beyond that share a parking lot with the brewery!!! As we were standing in the coffee pot aisle, we were looking at the different size pots, and I was opening the boxes to see how big each one was. The cup sizes (sexy) aren't listed on the sides of the boxes, so we were going on looks only. I picked out a nice size pot, but Fuzzy said it looked too big and that we would probably end up wasting a lot of coffee (though I wouldn't throw it out--I would put the leftover espresso in the fridge for homemade iced lattes.) He picked out one that we thought looked like a 6 cup pot--not too much more, but a little wider, so it would satisfy our need for "just a little more coffee." We agreed that I would take the smaller pot to work with me, so to guarantee the quality of my morning coffees.
That weekend, we excitedly put the pot to work. I made a lot of milk foam for the cappuccinos, and when we drank it, it just tasted more milky. We had such high expectations, and we were just a little...not impressed. We made lots of "Huh" and "Hrmm" sounds. We tried again the next day....and we still didn't have enough coffee. We were like "well, one cup extra each is a negligible difference." We were determined to be excited by our newest kitchen addition.
One weekend morning, while I was lolling about in the tub, which is one of my favorite activities on the planet, my amazing darling husband came in with a cappuccino for me (sidenote: I cannot tell you how amazing this is....sometimes while I am in my "hot water room", Fuzzy will bring me coffee or beer or wine to enjoy. It's just about the closest thing to Heaven on Earth that I can imagine....Ok, well, maybe if the bathtub was full of kittens, it would be MORE like Heaven to me.). Settling the coffee on the sink basin he says "That new coffee pot we bought? Yeah, it's the same size as the other one. It's just a lot shinier."
Same size, just shinier.
Here is proof:
What's the moral here? Don't drink and shop? Trust your wife's instincts when she picks something out? Drink less coffee? Who knows. But the last time I made coffee at home, I made it in both pots, and put the leftover coffee in the fridge and had a kickass iced latte a few days later.
Our sweet little betta fish, General Sherman, passed away yesterday. He made it a really long time-- About 2 and a half years! He was a good friend. He had some ups and downs over the years, but finally just got too old, the sweet little guy. He was a great member of the family: Fuzzy and I talked to him all the time, I said goodbye and goodnight to him every day, and we'd often be like "Sherman! Get over here on the couch!" We included him in our family New Years card. It's going to be hard to break the habit of looking over at him and checking on him every time I enter the living room.
I wanted him to have a dignified burial, so Fuzzy made him a little tiny coffin so we could bury him in our little non-yard out back.
Poor little sad Fuzzy. He's a champ for taking care of him last night and throughout the years.
Animal Planet's new show Too Cute. As if watching an hour of tiny baby squeaking kittens be born, learn to walk, hunt, etc, isn't enough to make you cry (and it is), they end the episodes with showing the families who are adopting the kittens and giving updates about their lives in their new homes. I blubber like no one's business.
I love days like today. I had the week off from therapy this week, so I took today as my day off in the week to get ready for a baby shower that I am co-throwing tomorrow for my awesome and amazing friends Jodi and Eliot*. I have a distinct menu, and everything on it is super delicious and easy to make. I am all for no fuss all fun! I started the day with some hearty procrastination, but then was a rockstar and washed all the dishes that had been piling up this week. I knew my trip to the grocery store was going to be EPIC, so although we live only a block from the Dominicks, I drove to the store. There's only so much I could carry!
I'm a huge To Do list maker--I have to see at all times everything that I need to do and that needs to get done. I'm also an obsessive calendar looker. I was using a Gmail draft email as a to do list recently, and complaining about how it didn't save from my iPhone to my web gmail, etc etc, so Fuzzy did some research and got me Clear, a new and awesome to do list system. I love it, and I am hooked. I use it for my daily to do list, and I also used it today as a grocery list! It was so handy! Instead of carrying around a pen and crossing things off a paper list (making it all sloppy), I just checked it off my phone and was rewarded with a happy little flourish sound.
My list was an amalgam of both what I was planning on making and what I needed to buy.
Sidenote--Tim Gunn would be horrified, but I don't care what I look like when I go to the store. Today I went in my pajamas with a coat and a hat and no makeup on**. I think the best thing about Chicago winters is that you can run errands and go places without a bra on and no one will ever know cause you am wearing a big ole coat. So when you see me out and about in the winter, there's a good chance I am freeboobing.
Anyways, the list was crucial for my trip today, as I forgot a lot of things here and there and had to make trips all over the store.
I was tasked with getting a case of a certain type of champagne, and I was really happy to see that my Dominicks had it. However, they only had 6 bottles. I've gotten more comfortable with asking employees what they have in the back (it got me an awesome pork shoulder recently when none was in the meat section), so an employee went to the back and returned moments later with both of his arms full of 7 bottles--some looked liked they were going to fall! I ran through people and displays with my cart over to meet him, and yelled "SUPER MARKET SWEEP!" really loudly, but the guy didn't even break a smile. Yes, I really yelled that in the store.
Because of the shape of the champagne bottles, they don't really fit in those wine 6 pack carrying cases. I had one bottle precariously balanced at the top of the cart, and I had a premonition it was going to fall and shatter. 1 minute later, the bottle was careening to the floor, and I winced in horror. When it hit the floor, it...just laid there. NO BREAKAGE! I was so relieved that I didn't have a "clean up on aisle 10" emergency, especially cause I was going to have to ask the nice man to go back and get my another bottle of Korbel Brut.
When I got home, I became a cooking machine! Everything was fun and easy to make, and I washed all the dishes as I went. I AM SO EFFICIENT. Other than accidentally dropping something on the top of my beautiful lemon squares, messing up my lovely powdered sugar topping, everything went well.
2 Chocolate Chess Pies
2 Key Lime Pies (seen here without makeup/whipped cream)
1 Pan of Lemon Bars (from my old tried and true church cookbook)
I also pre-wrapped some bacon wrapped dates that I will cook tomorrow. And I am making pulled pork that will cook overnight--God bless the slow cooker.
While the oven was on, I went ahead and made some kale chips--I think these are the best I've ever made (I'm trying to save some for Fuzzy, but it is damn hard.)
I'm also planning a kickass dinner tonight-- filet mignon and caprese salad with grainy bread. HELL YEAH!
Also, I think I say this every week, but I think this week's Drunk Monkeys is my favorite one yet. Don't forget to look for us in iTunes!
* I've been blogging a lot lately about my amazing and wonderful friends. I can't tell you how lucky I am--I have the best friends in the world, and I love you all!
** I "didn't have my face on" as we say in the South. I have a hard time leaving the house without mascara and some sort of lipstick--those are my cosmetics of choice. I feel it is important to share that last night I went to dinner with 3 of my also amazing and wonderful friends, and I wasn't wearing a speck of makeup. My plan was to go swimming yesterday***, and I didn't want to end up all raccoony, so I didn't put any on before work. But then I skipped swimming, cause I was so damn sore, and decided that I if I put some one before dinner, I was just going to have to take it off. That is really rare for me. I am most impressed that I didn't even call it out to the ladies last night. Cause you know me, I love pointing out my flaws.
*** Dammit, I just realized I didn't ride my bike today. And I'm still plugging away on my to-do list. Maybe I can get to it before Fuzzy gets home.
Six years ago (!!) Fuzzy and I participated in one of the coolest things I have ever been involved in in my almost 12 years of living in Chicago. My amazing and wonderful friend Shannon, along with 3 other women, coordinated and organized an event that was part war protest/ part art project--placing 4300 green plastic army men with tags saying "Bring Me Home" over 5 miles of Lincoln Avenue. The project was based on Mouth's Wide Open's Bring Me Home Project. What started as a simple email inquiry of "who is interested in doing this" quickly turned into an EVENT, with over 70 volunteers taking different portions of Lincoln Avenue. We did the work overnight and into the early morning, convening at the Lincoln Tap Room for celebritory beers. We had 5 or 6 blocks areounf the Lincoln-Addison area--to this day, I can't drive down that stretch without thinking about all our little men that we laid down. It was a cold night, but it was awesome work.
Shannon, with 2 of her friends. Me and Shannon goofing around. (Yes, I had blue hair.) Shannon says that I was the first responder, emailing her back saying YES to the project mere moments after she sent it out. I am proud of that. Me, putting some men down. Years later, a friend of mine was talking about how people would always give her things that were found on the street. She said one of the coolest things she was ever given was a green army man that a friend had found on Lincoln Avenue. Among hearing this story I exclaimed "I KNOW WHERE IT CAME FROM!" and told her the story of March First. Apparently, the Army man was alone and solitary, so it must have been a little while after the project.
A crazy Erica and a sleepy Shannon hug it out after a hard night's work. (All photos by Fuzzy Gerdes. Full set here.)